WHEELING – A West Virginia college is suing over claims the DEA administratively forfeited money that was stolen from the college by an employee.
Bethany College filed a lawsuit Oct. 22 in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of West Virginia against the United States of America, citing the administrative forfeiture of stolen currency.
According to the complaint, from 2007 to 2013, Bethany College employed Shelly Lough as a cashier at the petty cash window in the business office where she cashed checks, made deposits into student and faculty accounts and requested cash from Bethany's master operating bank account to fund the window.
The complaint states Lough began stealing money delivered to Bethany by WesBanco in July 2011, concealing the theft by falsifying Bethany accounting records and ultimately stealing more than $1 million from the college.
The lawsuit states Lough was indicted on charges of embezzlement and falsifying accounts by a grand jury on Nov. 4, 2013, and she pleaded guilty in March.
The lawsuit states Lough stole the money because she was being extorted by Jason Kirkland Weese and Rachaelle Weese, who threatened to expose sexually explicit communications between Lough and Jason Kirkland Weese to Lough's husband if she did not provide large amounts of money.
According to the lawsuit, the Weeses pleaded guilty to charges of conspiracy. However, the complaint states a DEA task force executed a search warrant at Rachaelle Weese's residence on March 19, 2013, and seized the extortion money Weese received from Lough, and, thus, Bethany College.
The lawsuit states the DEA officers should have been aware that the money was not consistent with narcotics trafficking because the money was not in small bills and was wrapped in WesBanco wrappers with a bank teller's initials on them.
According to the lawsuit, the DEA administratively forfeited the currency Aug. 20, 2013. Bethany College says it was entitled to written notice of the seizure or administrative forfeiture but was not informed.
Bethany College seeks judgment setting aside the declaration of forfeiture forfeiting and condemning the currency to the government.
Bethany is represented by attorneys William R. Kiefer of Frankovitch, Anetakis, Colantonio & Simon in Weirton, and Kathleen A. Nandan of Reed Smith in Pittsburgh.
U.S. District Court for the Northern District of West Virginia case number: 5:14-CV-00139-FPS