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EX-SECRETARY PLEADS NOT GUILTY TO THEFT

The former secretary of the Clearfield Chamber of Commerce pleaded not guilty this week in 2nd District Court to felony theft and forgery charges.

Chenelle Ashby, 22, is charged with forging signatures on eight checks from the chamber's account for more than $2,000 between April and June of this year, according to court records.Investigators say most of the checks were made out to Ashby for cash, but one was to a local department store.

Ashby was hired as chamber secretary last fall. Her duties included writing checks, but the chamber's financial procedures call for checks to be co-signed by the executive director, Gerald Gibson, according to police.

The checks were co-signed, according to Clearfield detectives who investigated the case, but Gibson's signature was apparently forged. The investigation began in June when Gibson noted some irregularities in the chamber's checking account, police said.

The eight charges were filed against the former secretary on July 30, according to court records. Investigators said since the charges were filed that two more questionable checks have turned up and additional counts may be added to the court case.

The charges are second-degree felonies, which carry a prison term of one to 15 years.