Marion Fair Treasurer Arrested for Embezzlement

By Rosemary Horvath

Correspondent

Rebecca G. Johnson, 43, of Marion was arraigned in 77th District Court this afternoon (Feb. 26) on a felony charge of embezzlement over 20,000 less than $50,000 in connection with the 2015 Marion Fair, according to Osceola County Undersheriff Justin Halladay.

Detectives completed an investigation regarding a complaint of misappropriated funds and/or embezzlement following the summer animal auction after which 4-H members had not received payment for their sold animals.

Johnson had served as treasurer of the Marion Fair Board. Both she and her father who was board president were asked to resign as the investigation surfaced.

Results of the investigation were turned over to the county prosecutor’s office in January.

Johnson remained incarcerated at the time of this writing on Feb. 26. Bond was set at $30,000 surety or 10 percent cash, according to district court.

A probable cause hearing for Johnson will be 9:15 a.m. March 10 in district court, unless she has the charge waived over to circuit court. At this time, Johnson does not have an attorney.

Prior to the arraignment today, county Prosecutor Tyler Thompson said detectives worked “tirelessly to provide details and a thorough investigation.” The span of six or more weeks is not unusual to determine probable cause due to the “voluminous data to go through,” Thompson said.

Records of the Marion Fair Board dating back several years had been turned over to the department. The fair board’s checking account had been frozen and replaced with a new one.

Youngsters picked up checks In October that had been owed them in July, totaling nearly $38,000.

“We want the community to know it was an individual who did this and not the whole board. We didn’t have any knowledge,” he said, referring to the alleged embezzlement of the former board treasurer.
In recent months, the board has added two new board members from Marion, Karl Bailey and Jim Whelpey.
Other board officers are Angie Moore, vice president, Marv Heuker, secretary, Coral Johnson, treasurer, and Lynn Benson, deputy treasurer. Members are Sally and Randy Van Buren, Megan Maney and John Johnson.
Bode said the community has shown continued support for the fair. “A lot of community members come up to me and volunteer their help. The fair dates are June 19-25. We’ve got the events booked and the contracts nailed down.”

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