Woman sentenced for stealing public funds in Pineville - WVVA TV Bluefield Beckley WV News, Weather and Sports

Woman sentenced for stealing public funds in Pineville


BECKLEY, W. Va (WVVA)-- The woman accused of stealing from a Wyoming County town was back in court on Tuesday.

Brandee Phillips-Ellis was sentenced to 18 months in prison as well as 3 years on supervised release for embezzling public funds.

Pineville Mayor Tim Ellison said justice was served.

"It's been a long road. It's time now that we can hold our heads high,a and go out and do what we were elected to do. We've all learned from this, myself and the council," he said.

She pled guilty to the offense earlier this year, and Tuesday the judge accepted the plea agreement.

Phillips-Ellis admitted to stealing $44,109.96 from the Town of Pineville where she worked as the own's manager and recorder-- some of which was used to pay off credit card debt. She also took $36,380 from the Safe Housing and Economic Development (SHED) office in McDowell County. The money from SHED was used to pay back her previous debts to Pineville.

All this happened between March 2009 and December 2011. Officials said she used town checks to pay her personal bills, wrote extra payroll checks for herself, and cashed Pineville checks to her own account. She also created a fake vendor to receive additional payments from SHED.

A federal judge sentenced Phillips-Ellis to 18 months in prison as well as 3 years of supervised release, saying that a sentence any lighter than this would not reflect the severity of her crimes. 

"This is a reasonable and appropriate sentence," the judge said.

She went on to say she took Phillips-Ellis's previously clean criminal record, lack of substance abuse history, high level of remorse, as well as the amount of effort Phillips-Ellis put in to conceal her actions and how the town of Pineville as a whole was affected by them, into consideration when deciding the proper sentence.

Phillips-Ellis tearfully told the court she was deeply remorseful, and would take it back if she could. She said she knows this ordeal has changed her and affected her mentally, as well as her family. She said she accepts responsibility for her actions.

Phillips-Ellis took a total of $80,489.96, according to the court, and has since paid full restitution. More was not ordered Tuesday. 

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