Salem woman pleads guilty to theft

LISBON — A Salem woman who used her employment to steal from a disabled adult in her care pleaded guilty to theft in Common Pleas Court on Monday morning.

Melissa S. Jennings, 42, West Middletown Road, Salem, could face up to 18 months in prison and a $5,000 fine for the fourth-degree felony charge. Assistant County Prosecutor Ryan Weikart said at the time of sentencing, the prosecutor’s office will be asking for a 12 month prison term.

Jennings defense attorney Coleen Hall-Dailey asked for the preparation of a pre-sentencing investigation including an evaluation for possible time at the Eastern Ohio Correction Center. Weikart said as part of the plea agreement the prosecutor’s office will take no position, but request is Jennings is granted community control paying restitution to to victim should be included as a part of it.

While acting as the house supervisor through Sacred Arms services between July 8, 2015 and Sept. 7, 2016 during a continual course of action, Jennings was in charge of paying bills on behalf of Cara Figley. However, court records indicate Jennings used Figley’s money without her consent and for her own purposes, leading to an economic loss of about $3,715 from Figley’s money.

Jennings had been scheduled for a status conference on Monday morning and a jury trial Feb. 20. However, she decided to accept a plea agreement instead and fought back tears as she pleaded guilty to the felony charge in front of Judge Megan Bickerton. Sentencing was scheduled for April 8.