Former Como Clerk

Published 12:00 am Friday, April 22, 2016

Former Como clerk receives prison term

By John Howell
Former town clerk Kara Killebrew was sentenced to 18 months in prison Thursday as part of a five-year sentence for stealing money from the Town of Como.
In pronouncing sentence during a plea day in the Tate County Courthouse in Senatobia, Circuit Judge Smith Murphey resisted defense attorney Stacey Spriggs’ urging to spare Killebrew prison time, singling out the former public official as the “mastermind” behind four people who worked together to cash checks she had stolen from Como and made out to fictitious payees.
Kara Killebrew, her husband, Marcus Killebrew, and their friend, John Stewart had entered guilty pleas during an October 29 court appearance last year, but sentencing was deferred until the court could determine whether the Town of Como had been reimbursed for its loss. Last Thursday, assistant District Attorney Jay Hale told Judge Murphey that Continental Casualty Company had made full restitution in the amount of $16,430 to Como.
A fourth person, Ronald G. Lyons, was also indicted for eight counts in the scheme. He remains at large.
Judge Murphey accepted Kara Killebrew’s guilty plea to counts three and 17 of the 17-count indictment against her. The remaining 15 counts were remanded to the files. She will be placed on probation for 42 months after she serves the original 18 and must enter long-term drug rehabilitation during her confinement. The five-year sentences were levied for each count, to be served concurrently.
Kara Killebrew was also ordered to pay $8,550.32 in restitution to her bonding company, a $1,000 fine and other court costs.
Como town attorney Revonda Griffin testified for the state and on behalf of the town against Kara Killebrew.
“Her position was one of trust,” Griffin said, “one where small towns have to depend on.”
Griffin asked the judge to pronounce a felony sentence to prevent Kara Killebrew from serving in a similar position again.
Also present as witnesses for the town were Alderwomen Teresa Dishmon and Rachel Powell, both of whom had testified at the plea day last October 29. Neither was called to testify last week.
Killebrew’s husband, Marcus, named in two of the 17 counts, was sentenced to five years, suspended, with two years of supervised probation. Judge Murphey also ordered Marcus Killebrew to pay a $1,000 plus court costs.
Stewart was sentenced to five years, suspended with two years of supervised probation, a $1,000 fine, $3,150 restitution to the bonding company and court costs.
Hale assessed the balance of the restitution — $4,728 — to Lyons when he is arrested and ajudicated.
“This was a drug-fueled kind of action,” Spriggs told Judge Murphey in seeking leniency for his client. “They had a heroin problem.”
Kara Killebrew’s attorney said that the couple had since undergone methadone treatment to rid themselves of heroin addiction. He also noted that the former town clerk had a clean record prior to the embezzlement indictments and that the couple are parents of a four-year-old daughter.
“I am ashamed of my actions,” Kara Killebrew said, her voice trembling. “I hurt not only my family, but the town. I apologize to the mayor, the citizens, the town.”
Spriggs said that his client had provided information on the location of missing defendant Lyons, information that had been passed to the U. S. Marshal’s Service via the Panola County Sheriff’s Department.
The Killebrews and Stewart were arrested together on April 24, 2014 when Stewart attempted to cash a Town of Como check, the latest in a series presented that had been made out to ficticious payees. By then, the bank had become suspicious, notified Como, and stopped payments from the account, Hale said.
By then the Mississippi Bureau of Investigation had already been alerted. Agents had the trio under scrutiny when Stewart made the April 24, 2014 attempt to cash another check at First Security Bank’s Southaven branch, prompting them to move in and arrest the trio in their vehicle outside the bank.

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