WAXAHACHIE — After almost four hours of deliberation spanning portions of two days, an Ellis County jury found former Ellis County court coordinator Deborah Jane Werkmeister guilty of theft by a public servant.
Werkmeister was on trial after she was found to steal more than $100,000 but less than $200,000 from county funds. The guilty verdict was reached Friday morning and punishment passed down late Friday afternoon, June 23 in the 443rd Judicial District Court.
Werkmeister was sentenced to 10 years in prison and given a $10,000 fine. The trial lasted two weeks.
Werkmeister served as the chief clerk in the court for Precinct 2 Justice of the Peace. As the chief clerk, Werkmeister was responsible for scheduling the court docket and running the office. She served as a county employee from July 30, 2001 – Jan. 15, 2013.
According to the indictment issued by an Ellis County Grand Jury on May 27, 2015, Werkmeister unlawfully appropriated money from the county from May 1, 2009 – Dec. 31, 2012.
Online records from the District Clerk’s website stated that the Texas Rangers arrested Werkmeister on June 3, 2015. Werkmeister was arrested on an after indictment warrant.
Before closing arguments, Judge Cindy Ermatinger told the jury not to let bias and emotion guide them when they go to deliberate a verdict. Ermatinger added not to hold the decision made by Werkmeister not to testify against her. The jury went into deliberations on Thursday evening at 6:24 p.m. before sending a note out to the Ermatinger requesting to continue deliberations Friday.
The sentencing options given by Ermatinger included five to 99 years in prison or life in prison and a possible fine not to exceed $10,000. They also had an option to grant probation if the sentence was no more than 10 years.
See Sunday’s edition of the Daily Light for the full article.
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