The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Local News

September 4, 2013

Ex-jail employee accused of theft waives hearing

EVERETT — A former secretary to the warden of the Bedford County Jail may find her retirement much smaller than anticipated if officials are successful in using it as a means of restitution should Shelia Suter be convicted of stealing more than $50,000.

Suter, 64, of Bedford, waived her right to a preliminary hearing at Bedford County Central Court on Wednesday on a charge of felony theft filed by authorities Friday.

“Any cash that came in, she considered it hers,”  said Bedford County District Attorney William Higgins. “It’s been going on since 2008 and could have been even farther back.”

The alleged thefts were uncovered by Warden David Kessling, who was hired in April to operate the Bedford Township facility.

The thefts were not uncovered earlier because there probably should have been better oversight, Higgins said.

Kessling began asking questions after he realized that checks and money orders sent into the prison for specific inmate use at the commissary by friends and relatives were being deposited, but not cash.

The big thing missing, said Higgins, was cash brought to the jail for inmate commissary use and no deposits made.

As part of the scheme, Suter credited the cash to the appropriate inmate commissary account, so they did not lose out. But instead of depositing the cash in the Bedford bank that held the account, she put it in her pocket, Higgins said.

Suter has been terminated from her job, marking the second time for such action.

She worked at the jail in the 1990s and was fired in 2001 after, officials said, it was learned she was having a relationship with a corrections officer and for having obscene material in her desk.

County commissioners said at the time she had a Playgirl magazine in her desk, a violation of state law.

She appealed her firing and won an arbitrator’s decision that she was wrongly dismissed.

The county was forced to rehire her in 2003.

As the case moves through the court system, Higgins said he is looking for the best way to make the county whole.

“The county, right now, has suffered the loss,” he said. “What we’re going to be looking at is taking the restitution from her county retirement fund.”

Kathy Mellott covers Bedford County for The Tribune-Democrat. Follow her on Twitter at

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Local News
  • bank1 West End bank robbed

    The West End branch of AmeriServ Financial was robbed Tuesday morning, two days before the branch is scheduled to close.

    April 15, 2014 2 Photos

  • weather_2 Old Man Winter returns to area

    Just when you think we’ve finally escaped the cold temperatures, winter swoops back in to remind us it’s not going away just yet.

    April 15, 2014 2 Photos

  • Home is Where The Tribune-Democrat is Delivered!

    April 15, 2014

  • City seeks support for sewer revamp

    The city is looking for backup from the Johnstown Redevelopment Authority in spreading what they call “true” facts and figures regarding the city’s encompassing sewer revamp.

    April 15, 2014

  • Airport gets lift with $180G grant

    The John Murtha Johnstown–Cambria County Airport needs to replace some basic maintenance equipment: a pickup truck, painting machine, chain saw, weed eater, hand tools and more.
    So, on Tuesday, the airport’s authority agreed to accept Pennsylvania Department of Transportation Bureau of Aviation grant money that already has been tentatively allocated.

    April 15, 2014

  • Cresson asks court to force ex-chief to sign pact

    An agreement reached more than a month ago between Cresson Borough Council and its former police chief still has not been signed, and the borough is asking a judge to intervene.

    April 15, 2014

  • hamer 16 Mom told to seek help for addiction

    A Johnstown woman charged with tossing her 4-month-old baby and with drug-related offenses pleaded guilty and was sentenced in Cambria County court on Tuesday.

    April 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • District hopes refinancing will save additional $40G

    Refinancing about $4 million in debt will result in savings more than twice as large as initially expected, Windber Area school board members learned Tuesday night.

    April 15, 2014

  • Elder justice events set

    In an effort to combat elder abuse in area communities, an elder justice seminar will be held from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. April 24 at the Johnstown Senior Center, 550 Main St., downtown Johnstown. In addition, a free elder abuse clergy training seminar will be held from 8:30 to 10 a.m. April 25 at Moxham Lutheran Church, 500 Park Ave., Johnstown.

    April 15, 2014

  • Local briefs 4/16/2014

    April 15, 2014


Do you think that Jack Williams will get the 270 signatures from city residents needed in order to have a referendum placed on a municipal ballot to have the city's pressure test mandate repealed?

I'm not sure
     View Results
House Ads