A theft case against a former Summit County sheriff’s deputy accused of stealing $40,000 from an elderly man was dismissed because the man died before giving a deposition.
Teresa L. Hill was originally scheduled to go on trial Tuesday in Summit County Common Pleas Judge Alison McCarty’s courtroom.
Hill was arrested in July and charged with theft from a person in a protected class, a second-degree felony. Hill, who was 42 at the time of her arrest, was placed on paid administrative leave from the sheriff’s office but later resigned.
She was accused of stealing from retired Capt. Spencer Gibson, whom she worked with at the sheriff’s office. She denies stealing from Gibson, a close friend she helped with tasks such as taking him to appointments.
“This was a difficult case for both families involved,” said Jeff Laybourne, Hill’s attorney. “She’s accused of this crime and she never got to really try to make it right or speak with Gibson before he passed. That’s eating her up.”
Summit County Adult Protective Services told the sheriff’s office in March that it received a complaint that alleged someone stole from Gibson, 77, between January 2015 and March 2018. Detectives with the sheriff’s office determined $40,000 was taken.
Prosecutors say they were concerned about Gibson’s mobility and his ability to make it to court for trial. They were finalizing details on a deposition that would have been used as Gibson’s testimony when he died unexpectedly Jan. 9.
Prosecutors dismissed the charge against Hill on Feb. 6. They say Gibson’s family could still file a civil lawsuit against Hill.
Laybourne said the theft allegation involved small loans and gifts in amounts as little as $100 and $250 made over several years. He described this as “one friend helping another friend.”
“These were checks and things he would write to her,” Laybourne said. “There were not — and could never be — allegations she signed his name or withdrew funds without his knowledge.”
Laybourne said prosecutors claim Hill obtained this money deceptively, but he and his client disagree. He said there was one loan Gibson made to Hill that involved formal paperwork. He said Hill planned to repay this loan but was charged before her first payment was due and was forbidden from having any contact with Gibson.
“She never got the opportunity to pay that back,” Laybourne said. “She still intends to do that.”
Laybourne questioned why the sheriff’s office investigated this complaint when it involved a current and retired sheriff employee.
Inspector Bill Holland, a spokesman for the sheriff’s office, couldn’t be reached for comment Monday. The sheriff’s office has investigated claims of wrongdoing involving other deputies in the past.
Hill, a deputy for 15 years, has begun the process of trying to get back her job. She declined comment through her attorney.
Stephanie Warsmith can be reached at 330-996-3705, email@example.com and on Twitter: @swarsmithabj.