Secretary at Bedford jail fired after charged with stealing cash from lock-up

by: Tony LaRussa Updated:

BEDFORD COUNTY, Pa. —

A secretary at the Bedford County jail who was fired in 2001 and won her job back has lost it again after state police charged her with stealing more than $50,000 in cash from the lockup.

Sheila J. Suter, 64, of Bedford was arrested on Friday as a result of an investigation by state police that began when the jail warden discovered that she had been pocketing cash collected from inmates entering the prison, according to authorities.

“I took over her duties when she was off for foot surgery and then suffered a heart attack,” said Warden David Kess-ling. “She was handling all the money collected from inmates, but there was really no oversight. We've instituted a number of changes to make sure this sort of thing doesn't happen again.”

No telephone listing was available for Suter, who could not be reached for comment.

Suter was supposed to log the cash collected from inmates, place the money in a lock box and later transfer it to a safe where it would be kept until she deposited it in a bank, according to state police. A detailed review of prison financial records by the warden found that Suter had failed to deposit cash since January 2008, state police said.

Kessling terminated Suter after charges were filed by state police. She was released on a $75,000 unsecured bond and faces a preliminary hearing on Friday.

Suter was fired in 2001 by former Sheriff Gordon Diehl, who served as warden at the time, for a violent relationship with a jail guard and for violating a state law against taking obscene material into a prison. Prison officials found a “Playgirl” magazine when they were clearing out her desk.

An arbitrator ruled that Suter was wrongfully dismissed, and Bedford County commissioners agreed to rehire her in 2003. She was paid nearly $25,000 to cover back pay and legal bills.

This article was written by Channel 11’s news exchange partners at TribLIVE.