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Former Ellery court clerk gets probation, restitution in theft of funds from fines

A former Town Court clerk in Chautauqua County will serve five years of probation and must pay back the $63,636 she admitted to stealing, according to State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli.

Sharon L. Thompson, 56, of Bemus Point, pleaded guilty last June to stealing court fines over several years from Ellery Town Court. She was sentenced in Chautauqua County Court.

A criminal investigation, which began in February 2015 after an audit by the state Comptroller’s Office, turned up the cash shortage.

“Ms. Thompson pocketed 10 percent of the court’s fees for years,” DiNapoli said in a statement.

“This was a crime that was easily prevented. Checks and balances are a cornerstone of good government, no matter how small the office. I thank acting District Attorney Patrick Swanson and his staff for their diligent work on this case.”

Swanson, in a statement said, “I’d like to thank the State Comptroller’s Office for their efforts. They assisted our office throughout the investigation and prosecution of this matter.

“We’re satisfied with the disposition as the Town of Ellery is going to be made whole and Ms. Thompson will be a convicted felon, hopefully never being able to commit such offenses again.”

The audit also found that Town Justices Lawrence A. Wallace and Randall L. Present had for years been failing to provide “proper oversight” of financial activity.