07-26-2018 Applications accepted until Aug. 17 for Berrien Co. Register of Deeds; Embezzlement trial

NEW SIGNAGE… at the Coloma access point for the Paw Paw River Water Trail. The river access is near the City Public Works garage behind Wesco. One sign indicates to proceed down the hill and the other sign is located at the river. The funding for these new signs is part of the donation given in 2017 to the Coloma Watervliet Area Economic Development Corporation (CWAEDC) from the Menasha Corporation Foundation to improve the Coloma access site. (TCR photos by Rick Rasmussen)

Applications accepted until Aug. 17 for Berrien Co. Register of Deeds

The Register of Deeds Appointment Committee announces it is currently accepting applications for their consideration. The Committee comprised of the Presiding Probate Judge, Mabel J. Mayfield, County Clerk, Sharon Tyler, and Prosecuting Attorney, Michael Sepic, is authorized by statute to fill the vacancy left by the untimely death of Lori Jarvis. The appointment is for the remainder of the current term ending December 31, 2020. The Committee is requesting candidates send a county application, resume, and cover letter describing the applicant’s specific qualifications for the appointment. The county application is available on the county’s Website at: https://berriencounty.org/581/ Employment. The application, resume and cover letter should be addressed to Berrien County Clerk, Sharon Tyler, Courthouse, 811 Port Street, St. Joseph, MI 49085 and received no later than 4:00 p.m. on August 17, 2018. Applicants shall be at least 18 years of age and registered to vote in Berrien County. Desired experience could include managing a small staff, managing an office budget, and familiarity with real estate matters. For 2018, the annual salary of the Register of Deeds position has been established by the Board of County Commissioners as $81,930. The position also offers health and retirement benefits.

Embezzlement trial for former Hartford Township Sexton is underway

By Jon Bisnett Gerrie Lee Heskett, 62, of Hartford was back in the Paw Paw courtroom of Judge Kathleen Brickley as her trial began Monday, July 16 on one count of embezzlement between $50,000 and $100,000 and one count of embezzlement by a public official over $50. Hartford Township’s board first alerted the Van Buren County Sheriff’s Department in the fall 2016 who then launched an investigation in January of 2017 into alleged missing funds, mostly cash transactions that were the responsibility of Heskett. The period involved spanned January 2011 through December 2016.

The investigation report was turned over to the Van Buren County Prosecutor’s Office, which ultimately authorized the embezzlement charge. Hartford Township officials discharged Heskett in late 2016 when discrepancies arose. During arguments Heskett’s attorney Joseph Fletcher focused on the fact that the forensic accountant Karl Haiser averaged numbers in his review.

Assistant Van Buren County Prosecuting Attorney Jay Blair’s questioning reflected that averaging is a common practice in forensic accounting. Haiser stated he used a reasonable average and had no way of knowing if the sales were to residents or nonresidents which might reflect a 50% increase in the selling price. Ultimately Judge Kathleen Brickley ruled that the averaging system is reasonable and proper. The jury will get to decide if they want to base their findings on either the averaged total or the o