EATON — Former Preble County Historical Society Director Jane Lightner, currently incarcerated for thefts she committed during her tenure with the PCHS, won’t be getting out of prison early. A motion to do was denied last week.
In a decision filed on Wednesday, Nov. 9, Judge David Abruzzo found “judicial release was not appropriate” in the case.
Lightner’s request for judicial release was filed on Oct. 19. The State of Ohio filed in opposition to the request and Abruzzo agreed.
“The sentence order (18 months) was, and remains, reasonable under all of the circumstances,” Abruzzo wrote. “The defendants tole at least $75,000 over a substantial period of time. She held a position of trust at the the Preble County Historical Society, which trust was violated when she chose to appropriate funds for her own use and then hide same.”
On Wednesday, March 30, Lightner was sentenced to a year and a half in prison and ordered to pay $95,000 in restitution for the crimes committed during her time with the PCHS.
“Her heartless abuse of trust justifies hard time in prison, where she can spend her slow, dragging hours thinking about those she conned,” Ohio Auditor Dave Yost said in a statement released following the sentencing.
According to officials, a contingency of Preble County Historical Society’s current and former board trustees and volunteers lined the courtroom as Lightner, “faced her day of sentencing for crimes committed against the organization.”
PCHS officials said the punishment has “long been awaited since Lightner was relieved of her duties in 2014.”
On Wednesday, Feb. 17, Lightner pleaded guilty to one count of “securing writings by deception,” a felony of the third degree and one count of “grand theft,” a felony of the fourth degree. This came after her initial plea of “not guilty” last Sept. 29, 2015.
The charges against Lightner were based upon her theft of funds from her former employer, the Preble County Historical Society and her theft of funds from an elderly benefactor of the PCHS.
The plea brought to conclusion an extensive investigation performed jointly by the Ohio Auditor of State’s Office and the Preble County Sheriff’s Office. According to officials, the investigation revealed Lightner had stolen $64,237.32 from the Preble County Historical Society during her tenure as director, and $13,710 from an elderly benefactor.
Lightner had been indicted on nine charges, including engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity, theft from an elderly person, grand theft from the Ohio Cultural Facilities Commission, and forgery. She is currently incarcerated at the Dayton Correctional Institution.
Reach Eddie Mowen Jr. at 937-683-4056 or on Twitter @emowen_RH.