WHITLEY COUNTY – The jury trial for one of three women accused of stealing more than $115,000 from a local charity in 2014 has been continued, with a final offer from prosecutors that could have allowed for lesser charges in exchange for a guilty plea also being rejected.
Thelma Hilbert, 79, was set to have her case presented to a jury at trial Wednesday in Whitley Circuit Court, but that date was set aside earlier this week through an agreement between prosecutors and Hilbert’s attorney, James H. Wren, II. According to Wren, a final offer for a possible plea agreement had also been extended to Hilbert, though she chose not to accept it. No details concerning the offer are available at the moment.
With no plea agreement in place, the case will now move forward to trial later this year, with a new trial date being set for Sept. 24 at 9 a.m.
The two other women charged in connection to the incident, Barbara Reeves, 77, and Tammy Walker, 50, are each scheduled to appear in court on that date as well for a pretrial conference.
The cases are all being tried separately after being severed in March. At that time, Commonwealth’s Attorney Ronnie Bowling said that he was in favor of severance, noting that he felt severing the cases would make it easier for a jury to adequately understand all the details involved.
No trial dates have been set for Reeves or Walker.
All three women were indicted in November 2016, with Hilbert and Reeves each being indicted on charges of 22 counts of knowingly diverting charitable gaming funds from legitimate charitable purposes or lawful expenses for allegedly taking bingo money from Women Helping Others, a Corbin-based charity. Walker was indicted on charges of 10 counts of knowingly diverting charitable gaming funds from legitimate charitable purposes or lawful expenses.
According to the indictments, Hilbert and Reeves took more than $112,000, sometimes in amounts as large as $18,000, from the charity between January 2014 and November 2014. Walker allegedly took more than $3,000 from the charity between July 2013 and November 2014.
All three women were arrested following the indictments and jailed in the Whitley County Detention Center. They are all currently out on bond.