- Associated Press - Thursday, October 30, 2014

LEWISVILLE, Ark. (AP) - The treasurer and tax collector for a southeastern Arkansas county has pleaded guilty to embezzling more than $240,000.

Keesha Rose, 37, pleaded guilty to one count of theft Wednesday in federal court, the Texarkana Gazette reported. A spokesman for the U.S. District Judge Harry Barnes’ office said that she could face up to 10 years in prison and a maximum $250,000 fine.

Rose, who had been collector and treasurer for Lafayette County since 2010, was indicted earlier this year on two counts of theft from a program receiving federal funds in excess of at least $5,000.

Prosecutors say she stole money that should have gone to the county between January 2011 and November 2013. A legislative audit uncovered the crime.

Rose’s attorney said that he and his client “reviewed all of the documents in the case (and) we agreed that it was in her best interest to enter a guilty plea” instead of going to trial. Attorney Jeff Harrelson said that she will pay almost a quarter-million dollars in restitution as part of her plea deal.

Rose’s term expires Dec. 31. She can no longer hold public office because she is now a convicted felon.

On Tuesday, a new collector/treasurer will be elected, but whoever wins won’t take office until January. The county’s Quorum Court usually meets whenever there’s an immediate vacancy in a county office to declare the position open and appoint a temporary official, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported.

U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Arkansas Conner Eldridge said in a statement, “We remain committed to investigating and prosecuting public officials that abuse the trust placed in them by embezzling public funds.”

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Information from: Texarkana Gazette, https://www.texarkanagazette.com

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