ELYRIA — Prosecutors are opposing former Lorain County Community Action Agency President Anna Taylor-Carter’s bid to have her criminal conviction for stealing from the agency sealed from public view.
Taylor-Carter, 54, is due in court today before county Common Pleas Judge James Burge, who will have the final say on whether her 2004 convictions for falsification, tampering with evidence, theft and theft in office should be expunged from her record.
In documents requesting the record be sealed, Taylor-Carter wrote that she had “paid her debt to society” and wanted to “close this chapter of her life and move on to pursue employment (opportunities) for which she is skilled and qualified.”
Taylor-Carter, who now lives in Columbus, was convicted of using an agency credit card to buy $86 worth of makeup and for $900 worth of meals on business trips for which she had already been paid expenses.
She also created a fake contract to cover up how much Red Ball Catering, a service operated by LCCAA, spent to provide food for her November 2001 wedding. She was cleared by a jury of seven additional charges.
Assistant County Prosecutor Jennifer Riedthaler wrote in court documents opposing Taylor-Carter’s expungement request that the former director of the poverty-fighting agency broke the public trust when she committed her crimes.
“When (Taylor-Carter) selfishly and illegally used those public funds for personal items such as makeup, this meant that these funds were not going to the intended individuals and group recipients,” Riedthaler wrote. “This theft and deceit had a significantly negative impact that affected the whole community and those that depended on receiving those funds.”
Riedthaler also argued that potential future employers should be aware of Taylor-Carter’s crimes “in order to protect themselves, their potential clients and the community as a whole.”
Taylor-Carter’s leadership of LCCAA was often controversial, including improperly firing workers, refusing to release public records and allegations she used agency funds to pay for a plane ticket to Florida for her husband. That bill was paid the same day The Chronicle-Telegram, which had sued LCCAA over public records access, published a story about the trip.
Even Taylor-Carter’s departure from the agency was steeped in debate. She continued to work after being indicted in December 2002 until she was fired in January 2003. She was brought back a month later by one faction of the board, before finally being fired in March 2003.
The infighting by the board ultimately led a consultant to insist that the entire board resign.