Former Dierks water clerk Cheryl Delarosa has pleaded guilty to theft of property and abuse of office involving more than $500,000 embezzled from the city, according to a press release from Dierks Mayor Ronnie Cogburn.
Delarosa’s guilty plea was apparently part of an agreement, presented by 9th West Judicial District Prosecuting Attorney Jana Bradford on June 12 and approved by the mayor and city council members.
Mayor Cogburn said a previous plea agreement presented on June 5 was rejected by the council.
The plea agreement includes a guilty plea from Delarosa with the following stipulations:
– Delarosa admit she embezzled $501,193 from the city.
– Delarosa agrees to repay the city a lump sum payment of $164,000 by Aug. 9, 2023.
– Delarosa agrees to forfeit her city retirement.
– Delarosa agrees to be sentenced to six years in the Arkansas Department of Corrections (ADC) with an additional 20 years of supervised release.
– If Delarosa does not pay back the $164,000 by her official sentencing date of Aug. 9, Delarosa agrees that the court could sentenced her to the maximum punishment in the ADC.
Until formal sentencing, Delarosa will be required to wear an ankle monitor.
– Delarosa agrees to repay the remaining $337,000 upon her release from prison.
“After four years and many continuances, we are happy this matter is behind us,” said Mayor Cogburn. “Receiving $164,000 upfront is best for the citizens of Dierks.”
An investigation into Delarosa and the missing funds began in 2019 when Cogburn took office and discovered the water department had not been audited since 2014. The mayor instructed Delarosa to provide documents to the city’s accounting firm and when the money was determined to be missing Cogburn contacted the prosecutor and the Arkansas Legislative Audit.
An audit from Jan. 1, 2015 to Sept. 30, 2020 concluded receipts exceeded deposits for cash by the following totals:
Delarosa, 60, resigned from her position on Jan. 25, 2021.
She was officially charged in Howard County on Sept. 28, 2021 with six felony counts of theft of property and an additional six counts of felony abuse of office.