Charges head to county court in Lutheran Home case

By: 
Ted Lutz
Staff Writer

KANE – A criminal case against the former administrator at The Lutheran Home at Kane is heading to McKean County Court.
Kane District Court Judge Dave Engman “bound over” the charges Monday against Jessica Jenell Smelko, 38, of Shippenville.
The action came after a three-hour and three-minute preliminary hearing in the Kane court.
Assistant McKean County District Attorney Ashley Shade was the prosecutor at the hearing.
Brookville attorney Robbie Taylor is representing the defendant, previously known as Jessica Copenhaver.
Kane Borough Police Officer Bill Nichols earlier this year filed 19 charges against Smelko for the alleged theft of cash and the use of business credit cards for personal items.
Shade amended the criminal complaint Monday to combine the allegations into four charges – including three felonies.
Taylor objected, but the judge upheld Shade’s revised case.
Smelko remains free on $2,500 (unsecured) bail pending proceedings in county court.
Police Officer Nichols was called in January to meet with board members for The Lutheran Home at Kane, according to court documents.
After an investigation, Nichols filed the criminal complaint against Smelko, court records show.
Some of the alleged thefts include:
nThe defendant received $3,944 from maintenance employees for the sale of scrap, court records point out. She never deposited this money in Lutheran Home accounts, court documents show.
nThe defendant allegedly used business credit cards to obtain merchandise for “personal use,” court records show. Some of the items listed in the criminal complaint include gift cards, a patio set, gasoline and rugs, according to court documents.

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