Not guilty plea for woman accused of stealing from Horse Fair

August 24, 2018

A Columbus woman accused of embezzling about $239,000 from the Midwest Horse Fair stood mute at a hearing Thursday and a not guilty plea was entered on her behalf.

Rhonda Reese, 51, faces 41 felony counts of fraud and 19 counts of theft in a business setting. She is accused of taking money through use of the Horse Fair debit card for personal purchases and checks written to herself from the fair’s bank account.

The Columbus Police Department was contacted by Midwest Horse Fair Board Chairwoman Patricia Miller on Sept. 28, 2017, inquiring about reporting misappropriation. Reese had been hired as executive director of the Horse Fair in 2007, but was terminated July 5, 2017. During her time working for the Horse Fair, Reese handled all financial operations including the organization’s accounting software.

According to the 28-page criminal complaint, itemized checks that had been written to accounts belonging to Reese or others, such as a $1,972 check to Edgewood College for Reese’s undergraduate tuition, had been mislabeled in the organization’s ledger as business expenses.

At an arraignment hearing Thursday, Reese appeared with attorney Kim Marie Zion, who informed the court that Reese would be standing mute. The court entered a plea of not guilty on her behalf and the case will be placed on the trial calendar.

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