James Bradberry Jersey

GOSHEN — A former county process server will not do time after admitting to her role in a payroll theft case at the Elkhart County Sheriff’s Office. But she will return funds to the county.

Mary Letherman, 54, Goshen, pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor count of criminal conversion during a hearing in Elkhart County Circuit Court Thursday. The charge was downgraded from the felony theft count she originally faced.

Letherman admitted, according to the charge, she exerted unauthorized control of money from Elkhart County by claiming she worked hours she didn’t actually work between about January 2014 through September 2017.

Judge Michael Christofeno accepted the plea and convicted Letherman, and then moved into the sentencing phase of the case.

As part of her plea agreement, Letherman was sentenced to a year in jail, which was suspended with the condition of good behavior. She was also ordered to pay $1,500 in restitution to the Elkhart County government.

The $3,000 bond she posted after her arrest in September 2018 was released, with part of that money directed to cover the restitution as well as court costs and fees.

Letherman’s attorney, David Francisco, explained she had worked for the sheriff’s office for 34 years, with 20 of them as a process server. He argued work for her started to diminish as court systems modernized around 2014.

Francisco argued Letherman’s crime was taking lunches that were “a bit too long” during the period that was investigated. He also said she raised issues about slowing work with her former supervisor, then-Capt. James Bradberry. Francisco described Bradberry’s response as sweeping the issue under the rug.

He also pointed out Letherman has no criminal history and no records of arrest. She’s ready to move past the case, Francisco said.

“This has been a very trying time,” Letherman told the court. “It almost destroyed me.”

Letherman also said she put too much of her identity into her role as a process server.

“There’s more to life than what one does for a living,” she said.

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