BECKLEY, W.V. (LOOTPRESS) – Rhonda Michelle Walker, former director of Raleigh County Parks and Recreation Authority, was sentenced to five years’ probation on Thursday, July 22, 2021.
Walker pled guilty to a sole count indictment, convicting her of felony embezzlement on July 9, 2021, in front of Judge Robert Burnside. Felony Embezzlement carries an indeterminant sentence of not less than one year and no more than 10 years.
Walker was arrested on embezzlement charges in May of 2018 after an audit- conducted in Apil in 2018- showed $18,500 missing from the budget. At the time, police said Walker admitted to writing herself and another employee unauthorized pay raises.
According to Hatfield, the embezzlement occurred over a three-year period, from October of 2012 to December of 2015, and totaled $18,539.11.
The original criminal complaint stated that, during the time of the embezzlement, Walker wrote 16 checks to herself and one to a maintenance worker whom she had supervised while at Lake Stephens. These checks were not authorized by the Raleigh County Commission.
Walker said she wrote the checks to “pay for vacation time she didn’t take during the year” and to “giver herself a raise.” She also said she wrote the checks without the consent of the commission.
Walker was arraigned in Raleigh County Magistrate Court in May of 2018. She was indicted in 2019.
At the time of Walker’s plea, Raleigh County Prosecuting Attorney Ben Hatfield, who represented the state of West Virginia in the case, guaranteed that they would be asking for full restitution of the embezzled funds at sentencing.
Prosecuting attorney Tom Truman was present at Thursday’s sentencing on behalf of Hatifled’s office.
According to Truman, Judge Burnside suspended Walker’s sentence, ordering her to undergo five years of probation. Walker will also be responsible for paying back the $18,539.11 that she embezzled.
Walker will report to a probation offer periodically and must undergo frequent drug testing. If the probation department deems it appropriate, Walker will also be required to complete community service.
If at any point Walker is found in violation of the conditions of her probation, a hearing will be held and her underlying sentence could be reimposed.