Stories For August 2011

The former Crawford County jail warden imprisoned for stealing money from a private club has been paroled almost three months ahead of completing his minimum sentence.

Timmy “Tim” L. Lewis, 54, of Meadville was released Monday from the Erie County Prison for health reasons after serving a little more than five months of an eight- to 23-month sentence given to him Oct. 5 in Crawford County Court of Common Pleas from Senior Judge John Bozza.

In a plea bargain with the Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General, Lewis pleaded guilty in August 2016 to one count of theft for stealing more than $120,000 from Meadville Moose Lodge 2505 when he was the club’s administrator between 2011 and 2014.

Lewis had faced a maximum of 10 years in prison and a $25,000 fine on the theft charge. Lewis had no prior criminal record and the standard sentence for theft in the case was six to 14 months. Bozza sentenced Lewis to eight to 23 months in jail followed by 48 months of probation, saying at the time that a message needed to be sent to both Lewis and the community.

Lewis had been serving his jail sentence in Erie County since his sentencing last fall. Under Pennsylvania law, a sentence of less than two years is served at a county jail. Lewis was sent out of Crawford County to serve his sentence because he was the Crawford County jail's former warden. Lewis was suspended from his warden's post following his arrest in March 2016. Lewis subsequently resigned his position in April.

David Ridge, Lewis’ defense attorney, wrote Bozza last month requesting the judge modify Lewis’ jail sentence because of blood pressure problems for Lewis where Lewis fainted while on work release doing community service.

The Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General, which prosecuted the case, took no position on Lewis' early release, according to Patrick Schulte, the deputy attorney general who prosecuted the case.

The Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General prosecuted the case and the Administrative Office of Pennsylvania Courts appointed an out-of-court judge, Bozza, after the Crawford County District Attorney's Office and the three judges of Crawford County Court of Common Pleas recused themselves since Lewis was a county employee at the time of his arrest.

In a letter dated Feb. 17, 2017, Ridge asked the court to consider modifying Lewis' sentence from his being housed in the Erie County Work Release facility to the electronic monitoring program so Lewis could return to his home in Crawford County. Lewis had been doing community service at Community of Caring in Erie.

"I have previously confirmed through telephone conversations with Mr. Mallory of the Erie County Work Release Program that Mr. Lewis has been fully compliant with all of the rules and regulations of the Work Release Program," Ridge wrote. "Within the last 7 days, Mr. Lewis has fainted at the Pre-Release Center and at Community of Caring. On one occasion, he was taken to the emergency room where he was treated and released. The second episode required a hospital stay for evaluation purposes of approximately 3 days. He apparently is suffering from low blood pressure problems, but it does appear as though that can be corrected with medication."

The letter stated Lewis has an opportunity to volunteer with the Crawford County Coalition on Housing Needs which "would obviously be simpler if he was permitted to return home."

In ordering Lewis’ release, Bozza said Lewis was to be released to Crawford County Adult Probation and placed immediately on electronic monitoring for 60 days.

There were multiple other conditions of release imposed by the judge including Lewis must obey the law and be of good behavior generally; reside with his wife, Debra, at the couple's Meadville home and make no change of address or cellphone number without advance consent of adult probation.

Lewis must comply with all electronic monitoring/house arrest rules and volunteer as a custodian/maintenance person for the Crawford County Coalition on Housing Needs during his period of electronic monitoring, Bozza's order said.

Lewis is to have no involvement in gambling or gambling-related activities; not be present at any gambling establishment or activities including casinos, bingo halls, raffles and others; and have no contact — either direct or indirect  — with Moose Lodge 2505 of Meadville or anyone else identified by adult probation or the court.

Lewis also must pay all outstanding costs including the approximately $31,600 still owed in restitution to the Moose Lodge.

As part of the sentence handed down by Bozza in October, Lewis also must serve 48 months of probation following his jail sentence, perform 200 hours of community service, repay $121,588 to Meadville Moose Lodge 2505 plus pay court costs and write a letter of apology to the lodge.

At Lewis' sentencing, court was given a $90,000 check from Lewis toward restitution — proceeds from liquidation of his county pension.

Lewis and his wife were arrested March 31, 2016, on multiple Pennsylvania State Police charges for taking $132,900 from the Moose Lodge between 2011 and 2014. The Lewises were both in leadership positions at the club at the time, according to court documents. Lewis was employed as the lodge’s administrator at the time, and Debra was employed as the club’s social quarters manager and her duties were overseen by her husband, according to court documents.

Lewis was suspended from his $62,296-a-year warden’s job by the Crawford County Prison Board following his arraignment on the charges. The Crawford County Prison Board then voted at a special meeting on April 4 to suspend him without pay. Lewis subsequently resigned from the warden’s post April 13. Lewis was granted a pension by the Crawford County Retirement Board on Aug. 12, according to board minutes of the meeting.

Lewis had been a county employee for more than 25 years. He was named warden on Dec. 24, 1997, after having served as deputy warden since Feb. 21, 1991.

Before reaching a plea bargain with the state attorney general's office last August, Lewis had been scheduled to go on trial in county court on one count each of theft by unlawful taking, conspiracy to commit theft by unlawful taking, theft by failing to make required disposition of funds and theft by deception, all felony counts; a misdemeanor count of rigging small games of chance; and a summary count of prohibited individual in a small games of chance. If convicted of all charges, Lewis had faced up to 42 years and three months in jail and $100,300 in fines.

In July, Debra was accepted into the county court’s accelerated rehabilitative disposition program, a program for first time offenders, on a charge of criminal conspiracy. Bozza gave Debra six months probation plus ordered her to pay court costs, a $250 administrative fee and make $2,000 restitution to the Moose Lodge.

A clerk at the county assessment office, Debra took leave from her job with pay using her own available benefit time following her arraignment last year. She subsequently returned to work this summer. She has been a full-time county employee since March 1994. Her annual salary is $31,012.80, according to county personnel records.

Keith Gushard can be reached at 724-6370 or by email at kgushard@meadvilletribune.com.

Source : http://www.meadvilletribune.com/news/local_news/full-story-former-jail-warden-released-early-from-prison-for/article_55305148-09e4-11e7-87d0-2fadb279a71d.html

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