Former Parks and Recreation worker sentenced in theft case

A former Ashland Parks and Recreation receptionist was convicted of theft this morning for reportedly stealing $43,390 from the department over a two-year period, the district attorney's office said in a press release.

Rebecca "Becky" Bianco, 50, entered no-contest pleas in Jackson County Circuit Court on two counts of aggravated theft, and one count of first-degree theft. Judge Tim Gerking sentenced her to 45 days in jail, then she must spend two years on supervised probation for each charge.

Bianco also received a suspended 13-month prison sentence that will be imposed if she violates the terms of her probation, the release said.

Bianco, who paid back $20,000 to the City of Ashland before today's sentencing, is required to pay another $23,900 in restitution, the release said.

Ashland police arrested Bianco in January 2011 on three counts of first-degree aggravated theft, two counts of aggravated identity theft, two counts of computer crime, two counts of falsifying business records, two counts of first-degree theft and one count of second-degree theft.

Most of those charges were dismissed as apart of Bianco's plea agreement.

Investigators said Bianco diverted fraudulent refunds for recreation classes or park facility rentals into several debit cards in her name. In November 2010, a company that processes payments for the parks department reported a suspicious number of refunds to a single card. Further investigation found three additional cards in Bianco's name also had received multiple refunds.

Bianco initially had claimed she might be the victim of identity theft, but police found no evidence of viruses or malware on the computers used to process the refunds. Subpoenaed financial records show Bianco was the sole owner of the accounts that were credited and the refunds were quickly spent on a range of items including travel and daily expenses.

— Sam Wheeler

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