Elkins employee embezzlement case will go before a grand jury

ELKINS — A judge ruled that probable cause for the arrest of a former city of Elkins employee charged with allegedly embezzling money for more than a year during her employment had been met.

Sierria Staten, 31, of Elkins, is charged with one felony count of embezzlement. She is currently free on a $25,000 cash or surety bond.

The probable cause finding means her case will now be bound over to the Randolph County Circuit Court for presentation to a grand jury.

Randolph County Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Leckta Poling represented the state while Staten appeared with Phil Isner as defense counsel. Randolph County Chief Magistrate Ben Shepler presided.

According to a criminal complaint filed in Randolph County Magistrate Court, at approximately 9:20 a.m. on July 29, 2016, the city of Elkins treasurer contacted the West Virginia State Police to respond to Elkins City Hall regarding an embezzlement investigation.

WVSP Cpl. K.A. Corley met with the treasurer and was advised that Staten, who was employed by the city as the municipal court clerk, took money that was generated from municipal court fines and fees between April 1, 2015, and July 28, 2016, the document states.

The treasurer said “discrepancies” were brought to her attention and Staten was the only person who had access to municipal court finances, court documents state.

She explained to Corley that at the end of Staten’s shifts she would provide her office with documents from municipal court software depicting the money she had collected on a daily basis, police said.

An audit was performed on the municipal court account and $9,240 was unaccounted for, according to the complaint.

At that time, the treasurer provided Corley with documentation to support the finding that money was missing from the municipal court account, the complaint states.

If convicted, Staten could be sentenced to not less than 10 years in the state penitentiary.