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Former Castile court clerk admits to stealing $37,000

A former court clerk in Wyoming County has admitted to stealing nearly $37,000 in court fines and fees over nearly five years.

Katherine Ryan, who used to work as a clerk in Castile Town Court, faces up to seven years in prison when she’s sentenced in May, the Wyoming County District Attorney’s Office announced Tuesday.

Ryan was charged in July following a 1½-year investigation into financial irregularities in the court bank account of Town Judge Ron Carmichael.

Ryan was not only working for the judge. She was the judge’s son’s girlfriend and lived with them at a home that was raided July 23. Police found marijuana, drug paraphernalia and a small amount of methamphetamine in an area of the home shared by Ryan and boyfriend Scott P. Carmichael, the judge’s son, who was also arrested.

The judge resigned after the raid and the matter was referred to the state Commission on Judicial Conduct because judges are personally responsible for the actions of their clerks.

In addition to admitting to stealing court funds, Ryan also admitted she failed to perform her official duties by stealing the funds and by altering and deleting court records.

She pleaded guilty to third-degree grand larceny and first-degree tampering with public records and official misconduct.

The thefts occurred between Jan. 1, 2009, and Dec. 23, 2013, the district attorney’s office said.

“This case serves as a reminder to have a real system of checks and balances in place so that one person cannot perpetuate a crime of this magnitude,” District Attorney Donald G. O’Geen said in a written statement.

“One way to stop people from thinking they can steal from the public coffers is to hold them responsible for their actions.”

Ryan faces a maximum sentence of 2∑ to 7 years in prison when she is sentenced May 10.

email: abesecker@buffnews.com