Former Arlington Heights mayor's court clerk formally sentenced to 1 year in money theft case

ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ohio - Arlington Heights' former mayor's court clerk was formally sentenced Monday to 1 year in prison for charges that she stole money from the community over a more than two-year period.

Donna Covert, who served as Arlington Heights mayor's court clerk for more than 15 years, admitted to stealing cash from speeding fines between July 2007 and February 2010. Covert pleaded guilty to the charges in March.

"I just want to say I'm worry for any of the trouble this has caused everybody, and to my family, I'm truly sorry," Covert said in court Monday.

Covert's daughter, Laura Jarvis, was the assistant clerk of courts and was also indicted with her mother for theft, tampering with records and unauthorized use of property in July of 2012.

The indictments followed a months-long 9 On Your Side I-Team investigation into the missing money. The I-Team uncovered documents showing the mayor and other village officials knew about the thefts going back at least a decade but did nothing to investigate.

Two former chiefs of police said they had notified their bosses in writing that money was disappearing from traffic fines since 2002. State auditors had also warned the village that Covert was the only one in charge of the books without proper oversight.

Prosecutors revealed in court that the amount missing from the audit period was more than $267,000 but Covert's defense attorneys disputed that amount.

Judge Melba Marsh also ordered Monday for Covert to pay restitution in the amount of at least $260,000 when she gets out of prison.

"This is a betrayal of a public trust," Judge Marsh said.

Arlington Heights was one of the most notorious speed traps on I-75 before the I-Team investigation caused the police department to scale back the revenue-generating operation.

In a plea deal with Hamilton County prosecutors, Donna Covert was sentenced to one year in prison. The judge allowed her to delay the start of her sentence until the end of the school year because she takes care of her grandchildren.

Laura Jarvis has been negotiating her own plea deal with prosecutors.

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