CLEARFIELD – A former notary pleaded guilty Tuesday to multiple counts of theft for keeping funds intended for vehicle registrations and transfers.
Heather N. Woodel, 34, of Reynoldsville pleaded guilty to a felony count of theft by failure to make required disposition of funds, 13 misdemeanor counts of bad checks, 85 summary counts of bad checks and 220 counts of violating rules in one case and 17 misdemeanor counts of theft by failure to make required disposition of funds, 51 summary counts of issuing agent disposition of monies and one count of violating rules.
Judge Paul Cherry sentenced her to a total of five years probation.
Woodel’s attorney, Blair Hindman, stated that she used the funds she received to run her business, which she shouldn’t have done, and it eventually grew into something criminal.
According to the first affidavit of probable cause filed in December of 2017, a local resident complained to the Fish & Boat Commission that they paid Ace Notary Service in Sandy Township to register their boat. An investigation showed that this registration was never completed.
Business records from the service listed boat titling, registration and launch permits, showing the money was collected and temporary paperwork was issued, but the money was not submitted to the Pennsylvania Fish & Boat Commission.
Woodel told the investigating officer she was having problems and needed the money to handle a family issue. She said she felt guilty and would make things right.
The second affidavit filed July of 2018, details a further investigation due to a complaint made by a local auto sales business regarding Woodel’s business.
The business sent seven customers to Ace Notary Sales to have title transfers and registrations completed and they never received the electronic lien titles for any of the vehicles.
This investigation uncovered almost 200 other vehicle transactions that were not complete or had been submitted late since 2015.
In addition, Woodel had numerous bad check notices from PennDOT, totaling over $16,000.
When questioned, Woodel admitted that she was using the money paid by customers for their vehicle transactions for her own personal debts.
She would then use money from new customers to submit the older paperwork. She eventually got further behind and did not have the money to pay for the transactions.
After PennDOT terminated her contract, she “could not deal with it” and just walked away.
It was noted that there was no restitution due in this case because insurance covered the losses.