A Scott Farm couple has been indicted after allegedly stealing $140,000 from the state and a local business.
The Union County Grand Jury has indicted Stacey A. Hamilton and Joseph A. Hamilton, both of 330 Scott Farm Boulevard, Marysville.
Stacey Hamilton, 34, is charged with three counts of tampering with evidence, two counts of grand theft and one count each of forgery, money laundering and engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity.
Joseph A. Hamilton, Stacey Hamilton’s husband, is charged with one count each of engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity, money laundering, grand theft and identity fraud.
Union County Prosecutor Dave Phillips said the investigation began with the local Department of Job and Family Services. He said Det. Joel Thorpe, from the Union County Sheriff’s Office, works with DJFS on investigations. Phillips said Stacey Hamilton applied for medical and food assistance from DJFS.
“During the time they were receiving the benefits, she allegedly failed to include her husband or his income on the application,” Phillips said.
The prosecutor explained that as the investigator began looking at the Hamiltons, he accessed the family bank records.
“As a result of his analysis of those records, there was a suspicion of fraud,” Phillips said.
Thorpe learned that both Hamiltons worked as managers at the local Meineke franchise. He went to the business owners and compared business records to the Hamilton accounts.
It was discovered that the pair created an account that could accept credit card payments. The account used technology, called a Square reader, which would actually process the credit card payment.
Phillips said when some customers would come into the shop for certain services, the couple would process the payment through their Square reader rather than through the business’ card reader.
“The victim got the service and paid and didn’t know the business never got the money because it was being diverted into the account of Mr. and Mrs. Hamilton.”
Phillips said the Hamiltons would allegedly “manipulate the business records to make it appear the customer never got the service.”
Through his investigation, Thorpe determined that between April 2018 and January 2019, the Hamiltons allegedly took about $117,500 from the business. Phillips said the business owners were unaware of the theft, though they likely would have put it together eventually.
“That is obviously a significant amount of money and it was hurting the business,” Phillips said.
The prosecutor said that with the manipulated records it is “impossible to tell” if there was more money taken from the business.
Once the owner became aware of the alleged theft, the Hamiltons were terminated as employees.
In a statement, owners Pete and Julie Ferguson said they are “limited” in the comments they would make because the matter is an open criminal investigation. “We feel very fortunate to have been a part of the Marysville community for the last five and a half years and eagerly anticipate justice being served as the courts handle these accusations,” the owners wrote, adding that they “look forward to the day when the entire situation can be placed firmly behind us.”
Thorpe was also able to determine that during this time, Stacey Hamilton allegedly applied for and received more than $22,000 in medical and food assistance she was not entitled to.
Phillips credited Thorpe’s persistence and “very good police work.”
The owners wrote that they also appreciated Thorpe’s “long hours and attention to detail in this matter.”
If convicted on all counts, Stacey Hamilton could face as many as 34 years in prison while her husband could face more than 17 years in prison.
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