- Lauren Pack Staff Writer
A Middletown woman has pleaded guilty to stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars from a state nursing organization over a period of years.
Frances Neu, also known as Frances Shull, took $267,780 from the Ohio Organization of Practical Nurse Educators from 2008 to 2016, according to Butler County Common Pleas court records.
Neu, 72, of the 1000 block Golfview Drive, pleaded guilty to aggravated theft Friday before Judge Greg Stephens. The charge is a third-degree felony that carries a possible three-year prison sentence.
Stephens set sentencing for March 19 and released Neu on her own recognizance. He ordered her not leave the state.
Neu, the former treasurer of the organization, entered a guilty plea to a bill of information, meaning the case bypassed the indictment process.
Assistant Butler County Prosecutor Gloria Sigman said a question about one transaction led to the investigation conducted by Middletown police.
Neu was spending the stolen cash on her family, including wedding expenses, Sigman said.
Alicia Warren, the organization’s treasurer, said she became suspicious in December 2016 when she became an officer.
“She wrote a check to herself,” Warren said, adding Neu was very guarded about the organization’s account access.
That is when the investigation began in Middletown, but Warren said the organization has members throughout the state.
“OOPNE is a nonprofit organization that was formed many years ago to allow practical nurse educators the opportunity to network and advance excellence in practical nursing education across the state of Ohio. The organization runs on a break even budget plan. Multiple nurse educators and schools of nursing across Ohio are the actual victims of Frances’ fraudulent activity,” Warren said. “If the money Frances had embezzled had stayed in the budget, OOPNE could have lowered the conference fees for its attendees, provided more scholarships to nursing educators as well as nursing students and provided more healthy outreach services to communities across Ohio.”
Neu’s attorney Chris Atkins could not be reached for comment on Thursday.