ST. CLAIRSVILLE — A Belmont County man was found guilty of theft from a cemetery bank account and sentenced to nearly five years in prison recently.

Keith Baratie apologized to the court after thousands of dollars were taken from the Memorial Park Cemetery. Baratie was found guilty of aggravated theft, and aiding and abetting his wife, Karen Sue Ellen Neff, in committing forgery and securing writings by deception.

More than $300,000 of cemetery funds were used by the couple for personal enjoyment. The cemetery association received a large sum of money from an oil and gas lease that was squandered in two years by Baratie and Neff, who had no right to use the oil and gas funds for their benefit.

Neff has received a jail sentence similar to her husband’s previously.