Two people accused of stealing money they were entrusted with handling were arraigned Thursday by Judge Jean C. Logue in circuit court.

Tonya Gill, 39, and John Wright, 28, are each facing one charge of theft by failure to make disposition of property (more than $10,000) in two separate cases.

Wright is accused of taking money from the Richmond Masonic Company while he was treasurer of the corporation that manages the building used Richmond’s Masonic bodies.

Gill, formerly a secretary and bookkeeper at Foley Middle School, is charged with taking thousands intended for the school’s activity fund.

Both cases were investigated by the Kentucky State Police which presented evidence directly to a Madison grand jury. Under Kentucky law, a case can go before a grand jury without first going through district court.

Gill pleaded not guilty to the theft charge and her next court date, a pretrial hearing, was set for 1:30 p.m. May 10. She was represented by attorney Mike Eubanks.

From July to August 2009 to August 2010, Gill allegedly obtained school activity funds subject to a legal obligation to deposit them in a school checking account, according to the indictment. Instead of depositing  $30,596, she allegedly took the money for herself, the indictment states.

Gill resigned from her school job Aug. 24, 2010, the same day the KSP investigation began, according to school district spokesperson Erin Stewart.

After she was indicted last week, a judge issued an arrest warrant for Gill. She turned herself in Monday at her attorney’s office and immediately posted a $30,000 bond after being booked into the county detention center.

Eubanks released a statement Thursday reminding the public that Gill is constitutionally entitled to the presumption of innocence.

“Unfortunately, these types of cases are all too often tried in the court of public opinion before evidence can be presented in a court of law,” Eubanks said in the release.

John Wright also pleaded not guilty at his arraignment, and a public advocate was appointed to represent him. Wright will be back in court for a pretrial hearing 1:30 p.m. May 10.

According to the indictment, Wright allegedly took more than $10,000 from the Richmond Masonic Company while he was the organization’s treasurer from July 2009 to April 2011.

Two weeks after he was indicted in February, Wright was taken into custody in Hardin County where he currently resides. He was transported to the Madison County Detention Center and released on a $10,000 bond.

Wright made headlines last year when he announced his gay sexual orientation to his fellow Masons after separating from wife. He was subject to a trial for “un-Masonic conduct” and indefinitely suspended from the organization in April 2011.

Sarah Hogsed can be reached at shogsed@ richmondregister.com or 624-6694.

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