orangeleader.com (Orange, Texas)

January 17, 2014

Former city secretary sentenced to 8 years in prison

Tommy Mann Jr.
The Orange Leader

ORANGE — A former city secretary has been sentenced to eight years in prison.

Veronica Grant, the former city secretary in Rose City, was sentenced to eight years in prison by Judge Dennis Powell of the 163rd District Court in Orange this past week. Grant previously entered a guilty plea on Dec. 9, 2013, to theft of city of funds.

Grant was terminated from her job as city secretary in September 2012 for the theft of city funds by Mayor David Bush following a closed door meeting with city council. The amount was determined to be in excess of $200,000.

David Bush, the former mayor of Rose City, was relieved to have this whole event behind him.

“Basically, she was double writing herself paychecks with only one signature on them,” Bush said. “She also set up accounts under the City of Rose City with Visa and Walmart. She completely admitted everything she had done. No one coerced her.”

Bush stated it was in 2012 in which he determined the city’s finances did not seem to be recovering from the devastation of Hurricane Ike as expected. Since he worked in great detail on the city’s annual budget, he was aware of the amount of revenue and expenditures the city dealt with regularly and began to suspect something was not quite right.

The City of Rose City had selected a new firm, Stierman, Whitefield and Co., to conduct its annual audit. It was at this time when one of the accountants informed Bush that figures were not matching up.

Bush took this information to the Orange County Sheriff’s Office, who then called the Robert Smith of the Texas Rangers to handle the investigation into the city’s finances. The investigation began in October 2012 and eventually led to Grant’s arrest. She was indicted in May 2013 and released on $10,000 bond at that time.

Bush said Grant obviously went through a tremendous amount of effort to cover her trail.

“The Texas Ranger testified he couldn’t tell anything was wrong just by looking at the bank statements,” Bush added. “She was very good at what she was doing. It took the Texas Ranger time to discover what she had been doing because we had to compare the bank statements she had with others from the bank itself.”

Bush said he, along with lawyers prosecuting the case and people in the courtroom, believed Grant would either get probation and restitution or a minimal amount of time in prison.

“The judge didn’t hesitate at all when it came to handing down the sentence,” Bush said. “He maybe waited two minutes and then said she was sentenced to eight years in prison. We were all surprised I think.”