VAN WERT — Julienne Ralston, 51, of Van Wert, changed her plea Wednesday in Van Wert County Common Pleas Court and pleaded guilty to a fourth-degree misdemeanor count of criminal trespass.
She was sentenced by visiting judge Timothy Campbell to a $250 fine plus court costs. Ralston agreed to resign this week from the county auditor’s office and to never be re-employed by Van Wert County.
Ralston was one of three employees of the auditor’s office served with criminals late last year related to an alleged Van Wert County courthouse break-in.
All three defendants — Van Wert County Auditor Philip Baxter, Julienne Rolsten and Juliann Zinn — were charged with counts of breaking and entering, fifth-degree felonies, for an incident on May 30.
Rolsten also initially faced additional charges of unauthorized use of property, a fifth-degree felony, and tampering with records, a third-degree felony. Baxter’s additional counts include unauthorized use of property, a fifth-degree felony; and intimidation of the victim, a first-degree misdemeanor.
The county auditor’s office and treasurer’s office had been embroiled in a public rift since last summer, at which point an independent auditor was hired by the Van Wert County commissioners to put the county’s books in order.
Back in August, Van Wert County Sheriff Thomas M. Riggenbach announced a criminal investigation involving the auditor’s office. Riggenbach contacted the Bureau of Criminal Investigation with the Ohio Attorney General’s Office to request the formal investigation.