The marketing director for the Union County Fair has been convicted of stealing more than $114,000 from the Union County Department of Job and Family Services.
Thomas C. Welch, 48, of 19340 Raymond Road, Marysville, was found guilty of four counts of tampering with records and one count of aggravated theft. Welch entered an Alford plea, and visiting judge Timothy Campbell accepted the plea and found him guilty.
An Alford plea is not really an admission of guilt, but recognition that there is enough evidence against him for prosecutors to obtain a conviction. Additionally, the Alford plea cannot be used against the defendant in civil procedures.
According to court documents, between 2011 and August 2015, Welch repeatedly tampered with and lied on forms for the Union County Department of Job and Family Services. Court documents allege that Welch was not reporting the revenue he was earning as marketing director for the fair board or for his job with BLT Livestock.
As a result of the fraudulent applications, Welch and his wife Karen Jean Welch received more than $114,179 in cash as well as food and medical assistance to which they were not entitled.
Officials noted the aggravated theft was originally charged as a third-degree felony but because of a change in the law, the charge will be sentenced as a fourth-degree felony.
A sentencing hearing is set for March 29. Welch could face as many as 21 years in prison.
In exchange for the plea, prosecutors dropped four counts of tampering with records. Additionally, as part of the agreement, prosecutors agreed to drop charges against Karen Welch if her husband pleaded guilty.
Jeff Henault, vice-president of the Union County Fair Board, confirmed Welch’s involvement with the fair.
“He is currently the marketing director for the Union County Fair Board,” said Henault. “That is a position he has held for, I think, three years now.”
Welch is not currently on the fair board. By rules of the Ag Society, the marketing director does not need to be a member of the board.
According to the fair board’s constitution and bylaws, the marketing director’s responsibilities include acquiring new sponsorships, insuring all money is collected from fair sponsors and given to the treasurer for deposit, reporting any nonpayment of sponsorships for legal action, and submitting monthly reports of hours worked, mileage, contacts made and account of sponsors’ commitments for review.
Henault said he did not want to comment on Welch’s future with the board except to say, “we are talking about it and what this does mean for us.
“Right now, as a fair board, we need to take a look at the facts,” Henault said. “At this point, I want to make sure anything the fair board does is based on facts. There are considerations on both sides to look at.”
Henault said the discussions would take place as part of the February meeting, “at the very latest.”
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