VALPARAISO | A former treasurer of two prominent Portage civic organizations has pleaded guilty to stealing at least $40,000 from the groups.
Kenneth Morton, 52, of Union Township, pleaded guilty to four Class D felony counts of theft.
Morton pleaded guilty without striking a deal with prosecutors, which means he faces between six months and three years behind bars on each charge when sentenced Jan. 7 by Porter Superior Court Judge Bill Alexa.
Court documents state Morton has no prior criminal record, which will come under consideration at the time of sentencing.
The thefts came to light in December 2010 after board members from the Portage Parks Foundation began experiencing difficulty in getting Morton to pay bills on time and presenting them with inconsistent financial reports.
The board told detectives it conducted an in-house investigation and found that while Morton reported the foundation had about $8,000 in the bank, its actual balance was less than $1,000. Board members said the group's credit card also had an unauthorized outstanding balance of more than $5,000.
Board members told detectives they found Morton had written himself $38,575 worth of reimbursement checks since May 2008.
According to court documents, Morton told detectives he began taking money from the Portage Parks Foundation in 2009, in order to maintain his lifestyle after losing his full-time banking job.
Morton told detectives he would write himself fraudulent reimbursement checks between $300 and $400 after Parks Foundation golf tournaments and he admitted to taking cash from Rebuilding Together pancake breakfasts.
Detectives met with a board member of Rebuilding Together, who told them the agency was missing $27,673.30 since May 2007.