Jury finds man guilty of stealing hundreds of thousands from Houston County newspaper

Jury finds man guilty of stealing hundreds of thousands from Houston County newspaper
Jerry Rhone (Source: Houston County Jail)

CROCKETT, Texas (KTRE) - A jury has convicted a Grapeland man who stole from a newspaper with which he was employed over years’ time.

The jury found Jerry Rhone, 62, guilty following a trial on Thursday. A judge will sentence him at a later date.

Rhone and his wife were indicted in October 2014. His wife has since that time died.

According to the texts of the indictments, the couple committed the crimes against Alvin Holly, the owner of Polk County Publishing. Polk County Publishing owns the Houston County Courier and seven other community newspapers in East Texas.

A story that appeared on the "Houston County Courier's" Facebook page stated that the time period covered in the current indictments against the Rhones is 2009 to 2011. In the story Houston County District Attorney Donna Kaspar said that newspaper's financial information from 2012 to 2013 is still under review at this time.

The story stated that Jeannine Rhone was employed as the general manager of the "Houston County Courier from November 2001 to March 10, 2014. Jerry Rhone was employed in the newspaper's production department from February 2002 to December 2010.

Kelli Barnes, the operations manager for Polk County Publishing, said her company has had many problems with the "Houston County Courier" over the years. She said the newspaper often didn't have enough money to pay its employees and its bills, so Polk County Publishing had to foot the bill for the costs.

Earlier this year, Barnes went to the newspaper in an effort to find the problem and get caught up. She brought an accountant with her, and they immediately found evidence of embezzlement. Barnes said Rhone was placed on administrative leave and was later terminated from her position as general manager.

Barnes said they looked through the newspaper’s financial records dating back to 2009 from March to mid-July. She said the statute of limitations prevented them from going back any further than 2009.

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