The latest Mount Sterling public officials to be indicted after the fallout from the Joe Johnson case were arraigned in Madison County Common Pleas Court Thursday.
Former Mayor Charlie Neff and former Clerk Bonnie Liff appeared with their respective attorneys that morning.
Neff, 80, was arraigned first by Judge Christopher J. Brown. His attorney, Scott Mergenthaler, entered not guilty pleas on all counts on behalf of his client.
Neff is charged with two third-degree felony counts of theft in office, a misdemeanor count of falsification and a misdemeanor count of dereliction of duty.
Specifically, he is accused of issuing a check for $16,702 to Johnson for sick leave, much more than what Johnson was entitled to.
Neff is also accused of directing Vicki Sheets, the former fiscal officer, to issue a $38,120 check to Johnson, paying him more than he was authorized to receive for vacation and sick leave payout.
Should he be convicted on all counts, he would face a maximum of five years in prison, fines totaling more than $11,000, mandatory restitution of more than $54,000 back to the village and be barred from holding public office for life.
Liff, 59, was arraigned by Judge Eamon Costello. She also pleaded not guilty as entered by her attorney, Noah Kurucz.
She is charged on two third-degree felony counts of theft in office.
Liff allegedly cashed in more sick leave time than she was permitted under village policy and more vacation time than she had earned.
Both are out on recognizance bond with no house arrest or electronic monitoring.
The two are set to appear in court for an informal pre-trial hearing on June 2. Tentatively, their formal pretrial hearings are set for July 6 followed by jury trials on July 18.
Also in court Thursday:
• Cody Kemmerling, 27, of London, was arraigned for a community control violation.
He was caught in Pickerington with two bags of marijuana marked for sale as well as a vial of fake urine, specifically branded as “Dr. Greens Agent-X Premixed Fake Pee.” The substance is labeled as “a novelty/fetish product” and a “great gag gift.” It is also banned for sale in 16 states, including neighboring Pennsylvania and Kentucky.
He was let out on recognizance bond with house arrest and is to appear in court again on May 11.
• Joshua Oxidine, 22, of Columbus, was arraigned on a fifth-degree felony count of theft and misuse of credit cards, a first-degree misdemeanor. He was granted recognizance bond with no house arrest and will appear again in court on June 2 for an informal pretrial hearing.
• Jordan Mccluskey, 26, of Springfield was arraigned for a fifth-degree felony charge of drug possession, specifically Alprazolam, an anti-anxiety medication more commonly known under brands such as Xanax or Niravam. He is out on a recognizance bond with house arrest and will appear again in court on June 2 for an informal pretrial hearing.
• Jessie Crissinger, 30, of Columbus, was arraigned on a fifth-degree felony count of theft and a fourth-degree felony for misuse of credit cards.
She was let out on recognizance bond with house arrest and is to appear for an informal pretrial hearing on June 2.
Maximilian Kwiatkowski can be reached at 740-852-1616, ext. 1617 or on Twitter @MSFKwiat.
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