Mt. Pleasant man accused of embezzling from company

IOWA CITY — A former employee of the Johnson County Agricultural Association is accused of stealing thousands of dollars from the organization and using it to buy himself a truck and off-road vehicle.

According to the Johnson County Sheriff’s Office, Zachery E. Russell, 31, of Mt. Pleasant, was hired by the agricultural association in May 2018 to perform bookkeeping and maintenance duties at the Johnson County Fairgrounds.

Beginning in September 2018, authorities said, Russell tapped the organization’s bank accounts for his own use, opened lines of credit and transferred funds into his personal accounts.

Among Russell’s thefts outlined in criminal complaints were a check written to himself for $4,525, a $1,200 down payment on a 2014 Chevrolet Silverado pickup and a transfer of $15,916 that took place just before Russell bought a 2018 Stampede X off-road vehicle.

The sheriff’s office said Russell paid a commercial cleaning company $9,000 despite being hired by the agricultural association to perform cleaning duties at the fairgrounds.

Russell’s thefts totaled $26,820, according to the sheriff’s office.

He was arrested Monday night and faces one count of ongoing criminal conduct, a Class B felony; two counts of first-degree theft, a Class C felony; two counts of second-degree theft, a Class D felony; and one count of third-degree theft, an aggravated misdemeanor.

If convicted of all charges, Russell would face more than 50 years in jail.

A man who answered the phone at the fairgrounds Tuesday morning said the Johnson County Agricultural Association did not have any comment.