- Associated Press - Wednesday, May 13, 2015

GREENSBURG, Ind. (AP) - A southeastern Indiana woman who rose to police chief from dispatcher may spend a year behind bars after stealing $75,000 from the property room to feed a gambling addiction while her marriage crumbled.

Decatur County Circuit Judge Tim Day sentenced Stacey L. Chasteen, 49, to a total of four years but suspended two years after she pleaded guilty to theft and official misconduct charges in March. With time reductions and good behavior, the former Greensburg police chief will likely be incarcerated less than a year, Day said. Chasteen also must repay the $75,000.

Chasteen, who resigned last November after more than 3½ years as chief, testified during her sentencing hearing Tuesday that she began visiting casinos for fun to deal with her unhappiness from her disintegrating marriage and the pressures of her police work, the Greensburg Daily News reported (https://bit.ly/1A06FzJ ).

“When I was there, I didn’t have to think about anything else,” said Chasteen, who fought back tears during much of her testimony.

To pay her growing gambling debts, Chasteen said she used funds from her police salary, credit cards and payday loans. She said her family and colleagues were unaware of the extent of her gambling problem.

Chasteen said among the cash she took from the property room and gambled away was nearly $73,000 that had been seized in connection with a massage parlor prostitution case. Testimony revealed about $40,000 of the seized funds was earmarked for local schools.

Prosecutor Nathan Harter IV pointed out that Chasteen had destroyed the property records related to the massage parlor money in an attempt to hide her crimes.

“If you felt so bad about it, why did you cover your tracks?” Harter asked.

“I was scared,” Chasteen responded.

Chasteen, who became a police officer in 1997 after four years as a dispatcher, said she later borrowed money from her father and her father-in-law that was intended to be used to replace the missing cash, but gambled that away, too.

Psychologist Dr. Shelvy Keglar testified Chasteen suffers from moderate to severe depression and meets the criteria for a clinical diagnosis of “severe and persistent” gambling addiction. Keglar said people suffering with a gambling addiction will repeatedly try to win back the money they have lost.

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Information from: Greensburg Daily News, https://www.greensburgdailynews.com

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