Former city employee sentenced in Hobart Arena theft

TROY — A former Hobart Arena office manager will serve 60 days in the Miami County Jail as part of a sentence imposed Monday for the theft of approximately $267,000 of arena funds.

Cheryl Terry, 60, of Tipp City, entered a plea of guilty earlier this month and waived her right to a grand jury on one count of third-degree felony theft in office.

“I am not a bad person,” Terry said during sentencing. “I have a kind and giving heart, and I am sorry for what I did.”

Judge Stacy Wall sentenced Terry to five years of community control, 40 hours of community service, and payment of restitution, along with the jail time. Terry must also complete counseling, undergo a gambling addiction assessment, and hold full-time employment following her release from jail.

According to reports, Terry began depositing cash funds in her personal bank accounts around the spring of 2017 when the arena reclaimed its concession stand funds. Terry also funneled cash from rental and lease agreements, as well as cash from drop-in hockey sessions at the arena. She used the funds to support her daughter who lived in Texas, who was named on one of the accounts involved in the investigation. The funds were used to pay for her daughter’s car payment and dining and other living expenses at her home in Texas, reports state.

The investigation began following a trash can fire in Director Ken Siler’s office last April. Terry admitted to starting the fire in retaliation for not receiving a raise. Terry worked for Hobart Arena for more than 20 years.

During the preliminary stages of the fire investigation, Terry retired from the city of Troy on May 5 without explanation or warning. A tip from one of the involved banks stated they witnessed Terry make large cash deposits.

Further investigation revealed the grand total of $267,000 had been taken. A search warrant was conducted at Terry’s residence on June 5.

Terry met with Troy Police Department Capt. Jeff Kunkleman for an interview in June. According to the initial report, Terry said she was “strapped for money.” She also expressed frustration for being passed over for raises and promotions over the years. There was also no accounting software to show services invoiced or accounts received.

Terry again referenced her frustration during her statement at sentencing, stating she experienced “betrayal, abuse, and discrimination” during her years as office manager. Terry said she was repeatedly given additional tasks without being fairly compensated, adding that co-workers of hers continuously received raises that she did not.

Miami County Prosecutor Tony Kendell gave a statement Monday during which he responded to Terry’s claims of deficient compensation by saying she was free to “pack her bags and move on” to a new job at anytime.

“The longer I sit here, the more offended I become,” Kendell said in response to Terry’s claim that she did not personally benefit from the stolen funds, rather she used the money to provide for and help members of her family, including her daughter. “To say she didn’t benefit is absurd. (Terry) was put in a position of trust and she violated that to a despicable level. She deserves prison.”

According to reports, Terry stole $10,642 in 2020; $100,835 in 2019; $95,877 in 2018; and $62,217 in 2017 for a total of $269,571. The restitution amount of $267,000 was agreed upon by Terry and the state.

Prior to handing down the sentence, Judge Wall addressed Terry directly, stating her actions were “very calculated,” premeditated and deliberate.

“You knew what you were doing and you did it routinely,” Wall said. “You gave 20 years of dedicated service, and no one ever suspected you would be taking money the way you were taking it. You were in a position of trust and you violated that trust.”

According to Terry’s defense attorney Jon Paul Rion, Terry agreed to relinquish all of her retirement funds, totaling over $100,000, which will go toward restitution.

Following sentencing, Terry was remanded to the Miami County Jail where she will begin her 60-day sentence.