CROWN POINT — A Merrillville man could face four years in prison for failing to reimburse a nonprofit agency he admitted stealing thousands of dollars from while serving as the club's treasurer.
John F. Kmetz appeared Wednesday in Lake Criminal Court accused of violating the terms of his probation by falling behind on restitution payments to Hunky Hollow Athletic Club.
Kmetz, 81, pleaded guilty in March 2017 to stealing funds from Hunky Hollow and Cerebral Palsy of Northwest Indiana, a nonprofit that has operated the Hobart-based Center for Possibilities since the 1960s. The center provides day care, therapy and educational programs for children and adults with disabilities including cerebral palsy and Down syndrome.
Kmetz assured Judge Salvador Vasquez at his sentencing hearing in September 2017 he could pay the $12,693 owed to Hunky Hollow within a year of his sentencing date. Based on that assurance, the judge agreed to sentence Kmetz to four years probation, though he warned Kmetz he could face prison if he did not make significant payments within a year, according to a transcript from the proceeding.
“And I really do want to emphasize to you, Mr. Kmetz, that if you fail to make significant payments towards this amount in this one-year period, your probation will be revoked,” the judge warned. “And in the worst-case scenario to you, you'll go to prison for four years.”
Kmetz told the judge he understood, but at Wednesday's court hearing it was revealed Kmetz has paid only $545 in the past year to Hunky Hollow. A probation officer told Vasquez the defendant has paid on average between $20 and $25 a month toward the debt.
Defense attorney Scott King submitted to the court a listing of his client's income and expenses from May. He said Kmetz relied on Social Security and occasional assistance from family members to pay his bills. He said his client had no federal tax refund and only a $300 state refund this year.
The judge ordered Kmetz to provide the court financial records within 10 days of Wednesday's hearing. A hearing on whether to revoke Kmetz's probation is scheduled for Nov. 7.