FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) – Former court manager for Tarrant County Justice of the Peace Precinct 6, Shelly Denise Ables, was sentenced to 42 months in prison Wednesday for theft by a public servant.
Ables pleaded guilty to seven felony counts in all, stemming from stealing money from the court between April 2015 and October 2016, according to the Tarrant County Criminal District Attorney’s Office.
Ables pocketed small amounts of cash at a time to avoid detection.
The Tarrant County Auditor’s Office was ultimately able to account for 126 individual incidents of theft of taxpayer money paid to the JP court. The auditor’s findings led to a criminal investigation by the Criminal District Attorney’s White Collar/Public Integrity Unit.
In all, Ables pleaded guilty to the theft of more than $65,000. She pleaded guilty to all seven counts and paid full restitution in April of 2018, at which time a pre-sentencing investigative report was ordered by the judge.
“Ms. Ables was in a position of great public trust in Tarrant County and she abused that trust in one of the worst ways imaginable,” said White Collar/Public Integrity Chief Matt Smid. “This prosecution was a great team effort between the Criminal District Attorney and County Auditor, and yet another example of how white-collar crimes will not be tolerated in Tarrant County.”
In addition to the theft charge, Ables pleaded guilty to misapplication of fiduciary property and five counts of tampering with a government document.
She worked for Justice of the Peace Gary Ritchie in Precinct 6 for 23 years.
She was terminated in November 2016 after a county audit reported inefficient procedures and money shortages.