Former Peebles Life Squad president pleads guilty to grand theft

Posted at 4:34 PM, Jun 21, 2018
and last updated 2018-06-21 21:43:48-04

WEST UNION, Ohio -- The former president of the Peebles Life Squad Association admitted Thursday to stealing thousands of dollars from the organization.

Renee Estep pleaded guilty to grand theft in an Adams County courtroom Thursday, admitting she took more than $28,000 from the life squad's savings account.

Estep said she was able to do it because no checks and balances were in place. When asked why nobody checked the books, she said nobody ever asked.

Court records show the theft occured between February 2016 and May 2017. At the time, Estep was president of the Peebles Life Squad Association.

"I did not mean to hurt them," she said.

Judge Brett Spencer asked why she took the money. Estep said she was "pushed in a corner" and needed to pay her bills.

"She converted that money to her own personal (account) to pay bills, so on and so forth, basically diverting it without authority from the Peebles Life Squad," said Associate Assistant Ohio Attorney General Christopher Kinsler.

The association had someone else handling their books, but Estep temporarily assumed those duties as well.

"At the time, the treasurer was doing classes and stuff, and I was taking care of the bills at the stations and stuff until she got done with that," Estep said.

The money has already been repaid.

"We have a check drawn on our law firm trust account payable to the Adams County Clerk of Courts in the amount of $28,340.39 for restitution in full, which we will deliver to the clerk's office," her attorney, Bruce Wallace, said. 

That's one of the reasons Estep could get probation instead of time behind bars. Grand theft carries a maximum prison term of 18 months.

Estep will be on a 5 p.m. to 1 a.m. curfew until her sentencing on July 23.