Because of a few mixups and misunderstandings by more than one person (not necessarily including myself), a prior-to-final version of my story headlined Tuesday’s Wilmington News Journal.
Needless to say, I like the final version much better (thanks to my editor’s good suggestions), so I’m not even going to link to the printed version. Right now, you get to read the best of the best, likely never to be found in print. Enjoy.
Sabina grantwriter continues trend of theft charges
By BRANDON SMITH
The current charge against Sabina resident Diana Wiederhold is theft, a first degree misdemeanor punishable by not more than six months in prison and a $1,000 maximum fine.
Judging by past precedent, however, one may wonder whether Wiederhold will be required to serve any time — or whether she will continue in her grantwriting business, whose dealings are the basis of a history of civil suits and criminal theft charges.
Wiederhold has been involved as a defendant in five civil cases, all requesting money, and was ordered to pay restitution in one of them, in 2003. Beginning in 2006, she has been involved in six criminal cases, all for theft. She pleaded guilty to all those, and paid all the fines by payment plan — although every jail sentence she received was suspended.
“The court determines the appropriate punishment for what you did,” said Wilmington police chief Michael Hatten. “Now, does that cause you to not want to do that again? Maybe, maybe not. … That’s the interesting thing about law in this country.”
Wiederhold and her husband, Gregory J. Hutton, would not comment on the specifics of this article, saying that details will be released in a trial if the current case goes to trial. But generally Wiederhold and Hutton, via several brief phone interviews, denied charges of theft against them.
“If they wanted their money back they should have asked for it. Last we heard, everybody was happy” with their grantwriting services, said Hutton, who in 2007 lost a civil suit against him that was filed for the purpose of reclaiming money.
Each of these cases involved someone trying to allegedly reclaim a few hundred dollars at a time from Wiederhold. Holly Pogue, the Sabina resident who reported the alleged theft Wiederhold is currently charged with, says that’s the game she plays.
“I know of at least two other people here in town that she’s done this to,” Pogue said. “She got me for $100, another for $75, the older couple across the street for $225 or so.”
Dennis Teboe, a Wilmington resident who pressed theft charges against Wiederhold in 2006, said “the court room was half full” the day he appeared in court against Wiederhold. “There must have been 15, 20 people up there. She only took ’em for a few dollars, 100 or so, but still. That’s too much to just cough up and lose.”
Hutton said this about the current case against his wife: “We feel that it’s a vengeance thing rather than an honest thing.” In one phone interview, Hutton described what amounted to a conspiracy of neighbors trying to ruin his and Wiederhold’s credibility.
Teboe said he didn’t know of Wiederhold before the grantwriting business. He said he found out about Weiderhold’s business from a relative of hers, in a brief conversation at Wal-Mart. Teboe said the relative gave him Wiederhold’s phone number.
Teboe said he had asked Wiederhold for references before doing business with her, and in response she told him “You know about the grant for the high school, right? That was me that got that.”
Pogue said she became convinced Wiederhold was scamming people when, after several months of unreturned phone calls, she abandoned Wiederhold’s help with grantwriting and looked up computer programs to do it herself.
“I got a CD sent to me, and low and behold, they had a sample grant written, and it was the one (Wiederhold) showed me” during a consultation, Pogue said. Wiederhold reportedly told Pogue she had written the grant herself for another client.
“It’s beyond me how this woman’s still doing this,” Pogue said.
Pogue said she tried to reach Wiederhold many times, to no avail, to ask for her money back.
“I felt like I was getting the run-around from this woman, nothing but hassles from her,” said Pogue.
For Teboe, too, Wiederhold was able to be contacted less and less as time went on.
“At first, when she was taking my money, she’d contact us quite a bit, about every two weeks,” said Teboe. ”She’d say ‘I found you another $50,000. I found you another $150,000. I just gotta meet with them in Columbus.’ And she would charge a fee for that. She’s definitely a good thief, a good liar.”
After several months of stagnation, Teboe said, he began to become concerned about his investment of about $500.
“We would get into arguments on the phone,” he said. “She would send people over to my house saying to leave her alone. Well, I’m not going to leave her alone, you know, I’ve got money with her.”
“Nothing ever happened to her, that I know of, except some fines,” said Teboe. “That’s a bunch of malarkey. After that I used to see her every once in a while, and I’d think, you know, people get away with murder nowadays.”
Wiederhold’s appearance in Clinton County Municipal Court is set for 1:30 p.m. on July 29.