Federal prosecutors have charged a former deputy clerk of courts for Lorain Municipal Court with mail fraud for allegedly stealing while on the job.
The charge against 26-year-old Sierra Dozier came in the form of an information, a charging document typically used when a defendant is preparing to plead guilty in a case.
Dozier is accused of stealing between $15,000 and $20,000 beginning in March 2012 and running through May, when she was arrested on unrelated drug charges stemming from an investigation Lorain police were conducting into her now-husband, Julio Osorio.
During a May 14 raid at the couple’s Columbo Lane home, police reported finding six pounds of marijuana and $862 in cash that they contend Osorio planned to use for drug deals. They also discovered Lorain Municipal Court documents, including traffic citations, checks payable to the court and envelopes belonging to the clerk’s office.
That touched off an investigation into exactly what Dozier was doing with the documents and her work at the clerk’s office.
According to an affidavit prepared by FBI Special Agent Casey Carty, Dozier admitted during a May 28 interview with Lorain police and local prosecutors that she had stolen the money.
Dozier told authorities that she would take checks criminal defendants sent to the court to cover court costs and fines and put the checks in her drawer before taking out the same amount of cash. She also admitted to taking money that defendants paid in person at the court.
After she stole the money, Carty wrote, Dozier would deposit the money into her own bank account.
According to the information, Dozier would make changes in the clerk’s record system to conceal that she had stolen the money, including changing court-ordered cash bonds to personal bonds.
The information also said she sometimes used bond money for her own purposes.
Despite her efforts to conceal the missing money, the information said Dozier sometimes failed to make sufficient changes to cover up her crimes.
For instance, when defendants who had paid their fines ended up with suspended licenses because she hadn’t properly recorded that they had made the required payments, Dozier would inform the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles that there had been a clerical error.
Even after her arrest, Dozier was allegedly still trying to hide evidence of her alleged illegal activities, including June 20, when she allegedly sent out court documents to a driver who had received a ticket.
According to Carty’s affidavit, the FBI is still investigating how Dozier managed to deposit $48,187 beyond her wages from the clerk’s office into her bank account between February 2012 and May 10, 2013.
That appears to be the subject of an ongoing investigation.
Lorain County Prosecutor Dennis Will said his office isn’t involved in the federal case against Dozier, but is conducting its own investigation into her activities. He declined to comment further on the matter.
Dozier, whose defense attorney did not return a call seeking comment Wednesday, was fired by Clerk of Courts Lori Maiorana after being indicted on state drug and child endangering charges in July.