Photo by Virgil Shipley
Cami Stidham, left, and her attorney, Harlow Walker, listen as Knox County Common Pleas Court Judge Eyster asks if she understand the charge against her and if she is making her guilty plea to grand theft of her own free will.
By CHUCK MARTIN
News Staff Reporter
MOUNT VERNON — Cami Stidham, scheduled for a jury trial today for an aggravated theft charge, pleaded guilty this afternoon to a reduced charge of grand theft, a fourth-degree felony. The maximum sentence for grand theft is 18 months in prison and a fine of $5,000.
The original charge, a third-degree felony could have resulted in up to five years in prison.
Common Pleas Judge Otho Eyster accepted the plea and scheduled sentencing for Aug. 26 at 9 a.m., following a pre-sentence investigation. Her bond was continued until that date.
The prosecution is also asking the court to require restitution in the amount of $180,000, which Assistant Prosecutor Jennifer Springer said is the same amount Stidham’s former employer, Tracy and Mills Surveyors, is seeking in a civil suit filed against Stidham.
Springer said she could not be concerned about what happens in a civil case, but it made sense to specify restitution in the same amount the injured party is seeking.
She told Eyster the reason she took the money was because she was the sole provider for her children and that she suffered from depression.
Stidham was indicted in November 2010 after an investigation by Mount Vernon Police Department Detective Craig Feeney into allegations that Stidham stole over $400,000 from her employer Tracy and Mills Surveyors, Mount Vernon.
According to the report, Mills had requested copies of checks made out to Tracy and Mills from ACS Title. Upon review, Mills said he did not see the business’ usual endorsement on the back of the checks. Because the checks were processed through a different bank, Mills followed that lead to a second bank where Mills discovered Stidham had opened an account listed as her doing business as Tracy and Mills Surveyors. A deposit reported Mills received showed about $46,000 was deposited between June 2, 2010 to Oct. 28, 2010.
She opened the account on March 16, 2007, as Cami Sue Stidham DBA Tracy and Mills Surveyors with statements using her home address, according to court documents.
Supplemental investigation documents indicate that Stidham deposited $405,699.03 between 2007 and 2010 with the following breakdown: $102,910 in 2007; $117,720 in 2008; $95,230 in 2009; and $89,839.03 in 2010. Monthly deposits ranged from $2,250 to $12,820.
Cash withdrawals from the account ranged from $60 to $500 and included countless business check card purchases for gasoline, restaurants, grocery stores, wireless phone stores, department and clothing stores and even payments to nail salons and the Lions Den.
Cami’s ex-husband, John Stidham, was charged with complicity for his role in the theft as well as many other theft, receiving stolen property and insurance fraud charges. He received eight years for a guilty plea to those 20 charges.
According to Knox County Common Pleas Court records, a domestic violence civil protection order against John was issued to Cami on Jan. 7, 2002. Just six months later the two were officially divorced. On March 28, 2003, child support and medical expenses were terminated because the two were living in the same household.