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Stenographer to pay fines, restitution

| Saturday, Jan. 20, 2001

One week after prosecutors were told she was ignoring notices for payment, a court stenographer convicted of bilking Fayette County out of about $60,000 made arrangements Friday to pay fines and restitution.

Deborah A. DeFranks, 47, of Uniontown, was convicted in August 1997 for billing the county for 40,000 pages of transcribed testimony, but filing only 8,200 pages of work. She also forged signatures, billed the county for work on bogus cases and filed duplicate transcripts.

She is currently on work release from the Washington County Correctional Facility as she serves a 10- to 23-month prison sentence.

DeFranks was convicted of three counts each of theft by deception and tampering with public records, but did not serve any jail time until last Nov. 1. At that time, DeFranks was given work release by Washington County Senior Judge John A. Bell.

Since then, DeFranks has said she has been willing to pay her remaining balance of more than $36,000, but only to the agencies dictated by Bell in his sentencing order.

But Fayette County Clerk of Courts Janice Snyder said DeFranks refused to pay repeated notices seeking payment of her costs, fines and restitution.

Snyder said Bell simply specified agencies used for collection during his career in Washington County, and sent a letter asking for a clarification.

After DeFranks was provided a copy of that letter yesterday, she called to arrange a payment plan, according to Snyder.

On Jan. 12, Snyder notified the state attorney general's office that DeFranks was failing to make payments, putting DeFranks at risk of having her work release revoked.

Docket entries indicate that DeFranks was sent two notices requesting payment.

Earlier, DeFranks said she was willing to pay any agency that Bell specified.

'I just want to pay and get on with my life,' she said.

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