Former Bethlehem Village Clerk Sentenced to House Arrest in Ohio County

Former Bethlehem village clerk Andrea McDonald has been sentenced to one-to-10 years of house arrest after pleading guilty last month to embezzling about $127,000 in what her attorney called a “Robin Hood” plan.

From Jan. 1, 2008, to March 31, 2015, McDonald had been taking local utility tax payments that were meant to go into the general fund and putting that money into water and sewer accounts for other customers and herself. The investigation showed she also helped friends and family by taking money, but no one else has been charged in the case.

McDonald, represented by attorney Martin Sheehan, pleaded guilty last month to one count of felony fraudulent schemes against the village of Bethlehem after Circuit Judge James Mazzone accepted an agreement between the defense and Assistant Prosecutor Shawn Turak.

In Ohio County Circuit Court on Wednesday, McDonald apologized for her actions, saying she was sorry for embarrassing her family and causing problems for the village.

McDonald, 70, agreed to pay $40,000 in restitution to the village. Mazzone said she has repaid the village a significant portion of that amount, and is selling her house to pay the balance.

The village’s insurance carrier covered the loss to some degree. Mazzone said it’s possible the insurance company could file a civil suit against McDonald in an effort to recoup funds.

Mazzone said he based his sentence on a presentence investigation report in which the probation officer recommended house arrest with strict stipulations. He said he also took into consideration McDonald’s age and her lack of previous criminal activity.

“I imposed a more rigid sentence which was agreed upon by the state, the village and her counsel. She will be electronically monitored, subject to random drug and alcohol testing and pop-up inspections,” Mazzone said.

McDonald will wear an electronic ankle bracelet and will not be permitted to leave her home except for a medical emergency or unless her house arrest officer approves.

If she violates any portion of the agreement, Mazzone said she will serve out the remainder of her sentence in prison.

Mazzone also ordered McDonald to repay the village’s $1,000 insurance deductible the village had to pay to recover some of its losses.

Mazzone said McDonald is “pretty much wrecked financially,” and has plans to move in with a relative in Ohio. Her house arrest officer will work with an officer in Ohio to supervise her house arrest.