JEFFERSONVILLE — A longtime employee of a Clarksville hotel is scheduled for a sentencing hearing today related to the theft of about $350,000 over a four-year period.
Karen Upton, who worked for the Clarion Hotel (now the Radisson), was charged in 2016 with four felony counts of fraud and theft, alleged to have occurred between 2013 and 2016, according to court records. She became the hotel controller in 2013 and when she was terminated in 2016 due to the investigation, she had worked there for 25 years.
Upton was originally charged with two level 5 felony counts of fraud on a financial institution, a level C felony for theft where the fair market value of stolen property is at least $100,000, and a level 5 felony of theft with value of property over $50,000.
According to online court records, Upton entered a plea last June, then withdrew that, entering another plea in November. In this blind plea, she pleaded guilty to one level 5 and one level D felony for theft.
As of Wednesday afternoon, the plea had not yet been accepted by Clark County Circuit Court No. 1 Judge Andrew Adams.
The Clark County Sheriff's Office did not have a record of Upton having been incarcerated for the charges.
According to court records, the hotel owners became aware of an issue in September 2016, when they received a call from Capitol One regarding a payment from a company check sent toward a credit card. The owners told police the company did not have a Capitol One credit card, and noted that the check had been hand-written.
The numbers for the check in company records showed that it had been used to pay a company with which the hotel did business, but the check, itself, was written to Capitol One.
Further investigation revealed that Upton had also made payments to AT&T, Centra Credit Union and Zee's Auto with company funds.
Court records show that she admitted to theft of $88,969. Of this, $23,123 was used for personal AT&T accounts between January 2013 and September 2016; $42,095 was used to pay personal accounts at Capital One between December 2015 and September 2016; $17,601 was used to pay personal accounts at Centra Credit Union; and $6,149 was used to pay for personal expenses at Zee's Auto.
The hotel also stated in court records that $260,030 in cash had been taken by Upton during special events, saying that she would then write a company check for each amount as paid.
In November 2016, police were notified that attorneys for the two parties were trying to reach a repayment agreement and that the hotel may decide not to press charges if this was successful.
Records show that Upton had offered a remortgaging of her house, as well as Social Security checks, as part of the repayment. In early December, Donald Darby, one attorney for the hotel, told police they had failed to reach a repayment agreement and charges were to be sought.
Darby said in a phone interview Wednesday that some of the missing funds had been restored through insurance, but it was not clear exactly how much was outstanding that would need to be repaid by Upton.
There is a simultaneous civil suit regarding the funds, opened in June by Ann-Berkley Inc. which is the legal name of the hotel's company. The November plea agreement in the criminal case states that any outstanding restitution at the end of [probation] would be reduced to civil judgement.
A call to Upton's attorney, William Perry McCall, was not returned by press time, and Clark County Prosecutor Jeremy Mull declined to comment until after today's hearing, scheduled for 10:30 a.m.