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Fayette clerk sentenced: 45 days and probation

 

Town office left in a shambles, public trust violated, town board member says

 

By James Tilson

Staff writer

11-29-2018

 

Tracy Mellor

MANTI—The Fayette town clerk who, over more than a decade, stole at least $153,000 from the town for her personal use, was sentenced to 36 months of probation and 45 days in jail last week in 6th District Court in Manti. She was also ordered to pay just over $153,000 in restitution.

Tracy Kay Mellor, 63, pleaded guilty to three counts of misuse of public money, a third-degree felony, which carried a potential sentence up to five years in prison for each count. Mellor was originally charged with nine counts, but in a plea agreement, six counts were dropped.

The charges arose from an investigation early in the year, which found Mellor had been writing checks to herself from town accounts for more than a decade. It appears the total amount cannot be determined because records don’t go back far enough. However, her charges stated she stole over $153,000.

“Our office was left in shambles,” said Patricia Murphy, town board member, who attended the sentencing hearing on behalf of the town of Fayette. “The town has been extremely violated by this, because our trust was violated.”

Murphy told Judge Wallace Lee that not only had Mellor stolen money from the town, she had also taken town equipment to her home and kept town records on her personal computer.

She asked the judge to order restitution on the $153,000 mentioned in the original charges, to order Mellor to give the town access to her personal computer so town records could be retrieved, and to require her to write an apology letter admitting her wrong-doing.

“I want to get past the diverseness and restore small-town honesty,” Murphy said.

Deputy County Attorney Wes Mangum told Judge Lee the recommendation from the presentence investigation “shocked” him when it recommended no jail time at all.

He noted that although court records indicate that $153,000 was taken, Mellor’s actions went on for more than a decade, and there are multiple hundreds of thousands of dollars unaccounted for.

Mangum asked Lee to sentence Mellor to 60 days in jail. “The defendant had a place of ultimate trust for her town, for the people she served. That was greatly abused,” he said.

Defense attorney Earl Xaiz painted Mellor as a community-minded individual who made a serious mistake, but was not a bad person. He pointed out her long marriage, her children, and how she had moved to Fayette 24 years ago to “live a life that one would hope to live.”

The attorney said Mellor had told him she started writing checks to herself around 2009 to pay for her and her husband’s medical bills, and it “snowballed.”

Xaiz said Mellor felt nothing but remorse for her actions and had arranged to make substantial restitution payments right away. He told the judge he had a cashier’s check for $20,000 that he could present that day, and Mellor was selling some property that Xaiz said would net more than $30,000, which would also go toward restitution.

He said the town had already received $100,000 from insurance. Between all those payments, the town’s losses could be satisfied fairly soon, the attorney said, although Mellor would still have to reimburse the insurance company for the money it paid the town.

Mellor herself did not say much to the judge. She indicated she had tried to clean up records after the theft was discovered. “I’m sorry,” she said. “I tried to help the town clerks, and I was told if I came in the town hall, I would be arrested. I want what’s best for the town, I’m sorry.”

Before handing down his sentence, Judge Lee told Mellor, “I spent most of my career, before becoming a judge, as an attorney for small towns. I’m concerned by what happened.

“There was a substantial amount of time where you were doing things that were counter to your carefully crafted image. It’s your fault, no one else’s.”

Lee sentenced Mellor to 36 months of court-supervised probation, with 45 days in jail, to start the day after Thanksgiving. He ordered her to pay $153,389.89 in restitution, the whole amount charged by the state.

He directed that Mellor’s personal computer was to be made available to the county attorney in order to examine it for town records. And the judge ordered Mellor to write an apology letter to the town of Fayette, although he told her he did not want the letter published in the town’s newsletter.