Hospital embezzlement suspect pleads guilty

Published 5:28 pm Wednesday, August 20, 2008

By Staff
Plea bargain — pay back money, five years probation
Newsroom Manager
Jeanne Williams Jones, a former Beaufort County Hospital employee charged with embezzlement of nearly $100,000 from the hospital’s fund-raising organization, avoided prison time on Tuesday by accepting a plea bargain in Beaufort County Superior Court.
Jones assured Judge Alma Hinton that she will pay $87,644.70 to the Beaufort County Hospital Foundation for the money she embezzled during part of her nine-year employment at the hospital. In addition, she agreed to pay $10,000 for a portion of an audit performed by a firm separate from the hospital.
Jones did not always work with the foundation during her employment.
Jones was indicted April 14 by a Beaufort County grand jury for the embezzlement from the Beaufort County Hospital Foundation during the period from August 2000 to February 2006.
The judge suspended a six- to eight-month sentence that would accompany the Class H Level 1 felony in the N.C. Department of Correction for 60 months of supervised probation for Jones.
Jones’ attorney, Wayland J. Sermons Jr. of Washington, and Tom Anglim, chief assistant district attorney for the 2nd Prosecutorial District, exchanged statements before Hinton.
Washington Police Department Detective Jerry Davis, who was lead detective on the case, told the court that Jones was cooperative during his investigation and that she showed remorse for her actions.
Jones would write checks on the foundation’s account, endorse them and use the money to pay for personal expenses, Davis said.
Davis told the court that Jones would switch funds between accounts in the foundation for qualification of money balances for review by foundation board members for quarterly board meetings.
John Morgan, former Beaufort County register of deeds, vouched for Jones’ character.
Morgan said Jones’ family and friends are raising money to help her out of her situation.
Jones had some 40 supporters in the courtroom Tuesday, including her three children and her brother. Her husband is deceased.
The court accepted a $43,200 check from Jones on Tuesday.
The judge told Jones that she must abide by the stipulations of the plea bargain, which include a minimum monthly payment of $300 to the foundation, with at least $5,000 in restitution being paid annually.
Hinton added a $10,000 requirement for Jones to pay for a portion of an external audit cost of the foundation to determine the amount of money embezzled.
After the judge’s ruling, Jones, in a brief interview, had some words she wanted to express to the public.