KITTANNING – A Kittanning woman who admitted in April to bilking hundreds of thousands of dollars from area non-profit agencies was sentenced yesterday.
Beverly Steffey stood before Armstrong County Court of Common Pleas Judge Kenneth Valasek for stealing in excess of $335,000 from the Progressive Workshop, the Allegheny Valley Land Trust, and the Armstrong County Conservancy. Steffey served as a bookkeeper for each of the organizations.
Attorney Chuck Pascal asked for leniency in sentencing, stating Steffey has a medical condition and is suffering depression. After being made aware of the charges, Steffey had allegedly tried to commit suicide. He stated that she is in need of a CPAP machine in order to sleep at night. He asked for house arrest so Steffey could help her elderly parents and continue seeking help.
District Attorney Scott Andreassi painted a very different picture. He said the action of Steffey was not an accident and that her actions took the Progressive Workshop to almost bankruptcy. He requested that Steffey be committed to serve jail time.
Judge Valasek commented during the sentencing that this “could be the largest theft case in the County.”
The total sentence was a minimum of 15 months in the Armstrong County Jail. That jail time could be extended as long as 36 months. Following the jail time, she would be on probation for a period of 7 years. She was also ordered to pay back all the money stolen from the agencies. According to court records, approximately $100,000 has already been paid.
Steffey is to report to the Armstrong County Jail this morning at 9AM to begin serving her sentence.
Andreassi said the problem came to light in early 2016 when checks began to bounce on the Progressive Workshop checking account.
“The State Police were notified by the Progressive Workshop that they were missing a significant amount of money,” Andreassi recalled. “A forensic audit was done on their books and it was determined that the bookkeeper at the time, Beverly Steffey, was the likely suspect in the theft of the funds. That led us to look at other organizations that Ms. Steffey also worked for, which is the Land Trust and the Conservancy, where she also served as bookkeeper for each of those organizations. We then undertook forensic audits of those organizations and determined that, over the same period of time, she had been removing funds without permission from those groups as well.”
Charges of three counts of felony forgery and three charges of felony theft were filed in June 2016.