After shocking prosecutors by pleading guilty to charges of theft by a public servant and throwing herself on the mercy of the court in November of last year, former Rose City secretary Veronica Grant was back in front of Judge Dennis Powell in the 163rd State District Court for sentencing on Jan. 9. And although Grant pleaded with the court for leniency, Powell’s sentence showed little.
According to Assistant District Attorney Krispen Walker, who prosecuted the case, Grant was sentenced to eight years in prison for stealing about $200,000 between 2009 and 2012 while she was acting as Rose City city secretary, a sentence she immediately began serving after court proceedings on Jan. 9.
Walker said Grant started sliding down the slippery slope of abuse of public funds when she decided to start paying herself early. She would write herself a check from the city with the intent of paying back the money from her payroll, but she never reimbursed the city coffers. After successfully stealing city funds using those means, Grant started using the city’s credit card for personal purchases, including luxury goods from a shopping network. Walker said Grant tried to minimize her guilt by saying she was not the only employee of the city using the entity’s credit for personal purchases but was shut down when the prosecution brought up $23,000 in charges to QVC, a cable shopping channel. Items purchased included Dooney & Burke handbags, three pairs of the same shoes in varying colors, clothes and jewelry.
“She said it was not all her, but she could not deny the $23,000 to QVC,” Walker said in an interview. “It just blows my mind. It was just so frivolous. She was living this luxury lifestyle.”
Walker said she is satisfied with the sentence Grant received but that Grant could have been sentenced to probation instead of eight years in prison. She said Grant was offered a plea deal for probation if she would pay a lump sum toward restitution and agree to pay monthly installments until her debt was paid, but Grant refused to offer any restitution, and none was ordered by the court.
When asked if Grant seemed remorseful for her crimes, Walker said no.
“She didn’t seem incredibly remorseful to me, even though some of her coworkers at the city had to take a cut in pay to get the city’s finances back on track,” said Walker. “We gave her the opportunity to make a good faith effort, but that just didn’t happen.”
Walker said Rose City has implemented a new system to keep closer track of the city’s finances, and she hopes Grant’s sentence will serve as a warning to those entrusted with public funds.