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Davis accepts plea; Vannis sentenced to six years

October 10, 2007 | 09:06 AM

Harrison Superior Court Judge Roger D. Davis accepted a plea Friday on behalf of Susan Vannis, the Corydon woman accused in March of taking nearly a $1 million from her employer.

Vannis, 46, pleaded guilty to two of the original seven counts of felony theft and received four years for each count, with two years suspended, resulting in a six-year prison term.

With credit for good behavior, she could serve less than three years in prison.

Vannis also paid $100,000 restitution Friday to Dr. Paul Kelty, the Corydon gynecologist-obstetrician whom she worked for 15 years. She was the doctor's office manager.

After reading both charges, Davis asked Vannis twice, "In common language, did you steal the money?" She replied, "Yes," both times.

The amounts Vannis admitted taking were $192,374 in 2004 and $197,455 in 2005; representing the two highest yearly amounts missing from Kelty's office and a total of $329,828.

The remaining counts, totaling $578,354, were dismissed.

In a statement to the court, Vannis' attorney, P. Michael Summers, implied Kelty was responsible for some of the missing money.

Special Prosecutor Cynthia Winkler objected to Summers' statements as irrelevant, but Davis overruled, pointing out that the defense could say, "the Earth is flat and the sun comes up in the west," if it wanted.

"All we're saying is that Dr. Kelty's hands aren't necessarily clean in this matter," Summers replied. He said that during a second disposition taken of the doctor in preparation for trial, Summers learned of a second mailbox in Louisville that was used by the doctor. Kelty was the only person with a key to that mailbox.

"Almost all of the stolen checks came out of a post office box in Louisville," Summers said. "We're not agreeing that Mrs. Vannis took all of the money."

After the sentencing, Kelty shook off the insinuation and said he was glad to see the case come to an end.

"I picked those checks up myself, but they were given to Susan unopened. Sometimes I would have a large stack of envelopes and give them to Susan, and I'd tell her, 'Looks like we might have some good ones here,' and then later when I'd ask her about them, she'd say that most were rejections or EOBs (explanation of benefits). You can ask anyone on my staff. She always had an excuse," Kelty said. "I'm ready to put this case to rest. I thought the special prosecutor did a good job, and I respect the judge's wisdom and thoughtfulness in regards to the case. I felt like it was a reasonable plea."

Davis said he rejected a plea agreement in August because he didn't think Vannis could pay the amount of restitution — totaling $300,000 — and he didn't think the time she would have spent in jail was long enough.

Even though the amount of restitution that Vannis was required to give back was less in the accepted agreement, Davis pointed out to the defendant, "I suspect this is just the beginning of your financial troubles," adding that the Internal Revenue Service could investigate the matter for possible criminal tax evasion and impose further penalties.

"The saddest part of all of this is not that you have to spend time in prison ... the saddest part is the harm you've caused to your family," Davis told Vannis.

After the hearing, Summers said the case was the most interesting he's ever defended.

He added: "I think it could have been even more interesting had it gone to trial.

"I mean, a million dollars doesn't just go missing and you don't know it. Had it gone to trial, I think the case would have been a whole different kettle of fish."

According to court documents, Kelty contacted Indiana State Police on Aug. 29, 2006, seeking an investigation of theft of cash from his office at 2000 Edsel Lane in Corydon.

A business consultant was hired by Kelty to review the records and audit the loss.

According to allegations stemming from the audit, checks had been cashed totaling the following, rounded: 2000, $82,721; 2001, $130,330; 2002, $141,668; 2003, $109,887; 2004, $192,374; 2005, $197,455; and 2006, $113,748. That totals more than $950,000.

The charge involving less than $100,000 was a Class D felony punishable upon conviction by a maximum of three years in jail plus a $10,000 fine. The rest were C felonies; each carried a maximum eight-year sentence plus $10,000 fine.

With bond set at $300,000, Vannis remained in jail nearly six months awaiting the outcome of the case. She is expected to receive credit for that time. With additional credit for good behavior in prison, she could be released in less than three years.

  1. print email
    Kettle of Fish
    October 10, 2007 | 10:30 AM

    If she wasn't guilty then why did she plead guilty? First trust and money are taken and now the defense attorney is trying to take his character. Sad sad story.

    No winners
  2. print email
    October 10, 2007 | 10:46 AM

    Why try to slander Dr. Kelty by saying his hands might not be clean. He lost over $950,000 and will only recover $100,000. It appears that she lived pretty well while taking the money and now only has to pay back a very small amount. There are no winners in this story - it seems everyone loses.

    Justice for All?
  3. print email
    She bit the hand that fed her
    October 10, 2007 | 11:00 AM

    If it had gone to trial, possibly Vannis would have been found guilty on all counts. Once the records were searched and brought to light. But, we assume the IRS will follow up. I do not like that they are trying to make Dr. Kelty out to be the bad guy. She should apologize to him also. He had been very good to her and her family.

  4. print email
    Are all hands clean?
    October 10, 2007 | 11:53 AM

    I think the investigation should be far from over! There is no way an "intellegent" business owner would not realize that this was going on. Not only the fact that the $ was missing but the fact that Susan was able to live the lifestyle she was living. Dr. Kelty was one of her closest "friends" how can he honestly say he didn't have a clue?

  5. print email
    The rest of the story????
    October 10, 2007 | 02:04 PM

    This is a pretty interesting story. I think that if this case would have went to trial, maybe we might learn why "Dr. Kelty hands aren't necessarily clean." I think its kind of fishy that a smart business man would not know that almost a million dollars went missing. I think I could figure that out. I believe that theres always two sides to every story. Why would the prosecuting side develop a plea agreement that only allowed Susan to pay back $100,000? Sounds like there is more to this story and I hope one day the rest will be told on behalf of Susan and her family.

  6. print email
    Conspiracy Theory
    October 10, 2007 | 02:12 PM

    Obviously, there is much more to this tale than the public is privy to. Or is there? $1M is a large, noticable sum. $300K is now accounted for. The other $600K isn't just floating in limbo somewhere tax free...........or is it?

  7. print email
    Is the Docs hands really clean?
    October 10, 2007 | 04:44 PM

    We have all heard about Susan. Now its time to hear all about Dr. Kelty.I to wish it would have went to trial.I belive things would be alot different for Susan. And i still think the truth will all come out sooner or later. So lets all sit back and watch and listen. My heart hurts for Susans mother and dad and most of all her kids.

  8. print email
    October 10, 2007 | 05:12 PM

    My prayers are with Dr. Kelty and his wonderful staff as well as Susan and her family. May God be with you all!

  9. print email
    October 11, 2007 | 09:46 AM

    We can justify anything. Is this another OJ story? I can not fathom people coming on here and defending stealing 1 million dollars from a friend, benefactor and her employeer. Since she did that and we can't justify it we then attack the victim. No doubt these posts are from family and friends who can not believe what Susan did and so there must be fault elsewhere. She said she stole the money. Any information that comes out now is self serving and meant to lessen the stigma of her actions. Sympathy for her and her family yes. Castigating the victim with inuendo is not. If there were other parts to the story you don't negotiate and plead guilty. Defense attorney trying to be Johnny Cochran is ill-suited for this situation.

    Let the night mare end
  10. print email
    Ignorance and Arrogance
    October 11, 2007 | 09:51 AM

    Ignorance and arrogance till the very end. If Doc Kelty stole this money from orphans and widows, then put it in a cookie jar, how does it change this case. The fact is that she put here hand in the jar and took the money. Regardless of how it got there or what it was doing there...IT WAS NOT HER'S.

    The defendant needs to remember that Doc Kelty had to agree to recieving only the $100,000 and then stand there and have mud thrown in his face.

    I would have liked to see it go to trial as well ...

    Finger Pointer
  11. print email
    October 11, 2007 | 09:52 AM

    Several answers here:

    Kelty did notice something was up, which is why he hired the auditor. He was going to sell the practice because it wasn't making money. Don't believe me? Talk with Dr. Morton.

    The prosecuting side did the plea agreement because Vannis could have not paid him a dime back. At least that way he's getting at least a portion of the dough that was stolen.

    Since the business is his, how can he steal from himself?!?!?

    The person responsible for this is sitting in jail where she belongs.

  12. print email
    October 11, 2007 | 12:42 PM

    When the plea agreement was made, it was submitted by the defense attorney not the prosecutor. If the defense attorney thought Dr. Kelty was guilty and his client was so innocent then why did he make a plea agreement when a trial date was already set? As someone on Dr. Kelty's side I was disappointed when the judge accepted a plea agreement. I think that if it would have went to trial and all evidence and facts were put out in the open Susan would have probably been left with all charges that were filed and spent alot more jail time.

  13. print email
    October 11, 2007 | 03:03 PM

    I don't understand much of the logic, or should I say lack thereof, here. People say that Dr. Kelty, as an astute "business man," (when in fact he is a doctor), should have noticed money disappearing. Need I remind everyone that the investors in Enron and WorldCom were all very astute financial professionals with sound understandings of the balance sheet and income statement, and were still taken for a much more significant amount, and this happens everyday. Dr. Kelty is just that, a Doc. I would not ask him for advice on my retirement plan nor my business strategy, just as he would not ask me to consult on a patient.

    Auditors don't audit businesses and establish internal controls to protect those that "would" steal from their being caught. They do so to assure the owners that there are no such actions taking place. Therefore, laying blame upon the owner, against himself for that matter, is, as a keen observer noted, like saying the cookie jar is guilty of theft because it sits there and holds the cookies.

    Maybe it is arguments like these that explain the current state of our nation. She did it and everyone involved should be excited that she isn't serving what she deserves!

  14. print email
    October 11, 2007 | 03:48 PM

    This goes to show us how the system works here in Corydon. Setting the example for others not to do what Susan done is a joke. A person is going to have to remember that election time is coming up. Voting is how to change it. For the hard working honest people we are the ones who can change it. For the not so honest people this example shows you what you can get. Not so bad is it.

    Got it
  15. print email
    To Got It
    October 12, 2007 | 04:29 PM

    Ever spent three years in jail? It's not fun and games.

  16. print email
    Second Mailbox
    October 12, 2007 | 04:36 PM

    OH! The mystery second mailbox, what a great piece of detective work. Who cares how many mailboxes there were? Who stamped and cashed the checks and spent the money? Obviously the defendant, judging by the guilty plea.

    I'm with "Unbelievable" and think that "No doubt these posts are from family and friends who can not believe what Susan did and so there must be fault elsewhere. Any information that comes out now is self serving and meant to lessen the stigma of her actions."

    Common Sense
  17. print email
    October 13, 2007 | 09:07 PM

    Got it is one who will never know.

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