By Linda Cicoira
Angela Hinman “Angel” Taylor, the former Hallwood town clerk who embezzled thousands of dollars in town funds for at least six years and justified it recently by telling a probation officer that she was advised to pay herself extra money for all the work she did, will serve nine months in jail for her crimes.
Judge W. Revell Lewis III sentenced 48-year-old Taylor, of Hall Street, to five years in prison for each of the 12 charges. The terms were set to run concurrently with all but the nine months suspended. Upon release, she will be on probation for two years and on good behavior for five years. She was immediately taken over to Accomack Jail.
“There’s a lot of justification for what has happened here,” Lewis told Taylor, who had moments earlier testified that she pleaded guilty because “I was in fact guilty. I’ve been trying to accept responsibility. I’ve accepted that I did what I did. I paid restitution, offered to do the roof on the pavilion, offered to pick trash up.”
“You more or less said you were entitled to this money,” Lewis said referring to the probation report. “You were in a position of trust. You have breached that trust.” Lewis took her apologetic demeanor and restitution payment of $24,010 into consideration when he sentenced Taylor. She cried several times during the proceeding.
The defendant was initially accused of 65 counts of embezzlement. A plea agreement with Commonwealth’s Attorney Spencer Morgan condensed her charges to 12 and allowed her to remain free on bond until sentencing. Of the restitution she paid, $19,000 was for overpaying herself and more than $4,000 was paid to ANEC for her personal electric bills. The charges involved incidents that occurred between Aug. 31, 2011 and Sept. 12, 2017.
Mayor Jackie Poulson of Hallwood, who initially pushed for Taylor’s prosecution, asked the court to convict her of misdemeanors. “I’ve known her all her life,” he said. “She’s been a great person. She’s done anything that I ask her … I’d like to see all the charges dropped to a misdemeanor.” He contended the town should have had more restrictions on how money was spent like requiring two signatures on checks. “She’s helped with care packages, cleaned the office, cut grass and picked up trash …”
Still, Poulson admitted to Morgan that not all the town officials agreed with his opinion. There were those who wanted her to be punished severely. Poulson also said, “We were way behind on our bills. I was very shocked, surprised and disappointed” when he learned what she had done.
Taylor stored the town financial records in her car in October 2017 when the car burned in a mysterious fire. She told officials she had the records in the vehicle so she could take them to the auditor. The audit was set to be made because some town officials suspected her of stealing. Taylor said she worked for Hallwood for about 13 years. Morgan said there was concern among town officials that cash payments made to the town for decals or taxes were also taken by Taylor, but those accusations could not be proven.