A former court clerk in the Wyoming County Town of Castile has been sentenced for stealing around $36,000.
Katherine Ryan, 46, of Castile will serve two to six years in prison for third degree grand larceny, first degree tampering with public records and official misconduct.
She pleaded guilty in January, but failed to appear for sentencing in May. As a result, the sentencing cap was nullified and the judge had full discretion to sentence her to a max of four-and-two-thirds to 14 years in prison.
In a statement, Wyoming County District Attorney Donald O'Green said, "For far too long people in Ms. Ryan’s position have been treated with kid gloves. The public is tired of corrupt government officials and the message that is continuing to be sent by my office and now the court system is that this behavior will not be tolerated.
Ryan was arrested last July stemming from an investigation that began in December 2013 when the Town Supervisor noticed irregularities on a judge’s court bank account. The Town Supervisor brought the information to the DA’s Office, who in turn brought it to the State Inspector General.
Auditors reviewed physical and computer records from the town. There were more than 200 files that showed there was an outstanding debt related to a court case. A judge in the Town of Perry had to send out request letters to all of the outstanding debt cases to determine whether or not the people involved had paid.
In the end, auditors say they found Ryan was taking the money from court cases and not marking them as paid from between January 2009 until December 2013. She also deleted 17 cases that had been paid and kept the money.
Ryan is the girlfriend of Town of Castile Judge Ron Carmichael’s son. They all live together, along with Judge Carmichael’s wife, at a home on North Main Street in Castile. Judge Carmichael is the judge who hired Ryan as a court clerk.
As part of this investigation, officers went to the judge’s home to search for missing court files and say they found more than 60 marijuana plants, drug paraphernalia and small amounts of methamphetamine on the second floor of the home where Ryan and her boyfriend stay.
Ryan initially faced drug charges, but those were dropped as part of her plea deal.
Though neither Judge Carmichael or his wife are charged in the case, he submitted his resignation, effective July 31, 2015 to the Castile Town Supervisor. Judges are responsible for the actions of their clerks and are meant to provide checks and balances. The matter was still referred to the Judicial Conduct Commission.