Former village clerk/treasurer Leigha Barton was arrested and jailed on Jan. 11, charged with multiple counts of fraud and mismanagement of village funds. 

Barton first became deputy clerk in June 2020, and then in January 2021, she became clerk/treasurer when she and her predecessor, 25-year employee Lori Brueggen, switched roles. She resigned on June 28, 2023.

Leigha Barton booking photo

According to a complaint filed by Monroe County District Attorney Kevin Croninger on Jan. 10, Barton is charged with nine counts ranging from tampering with public funds, unauthorized use of her identity as clerk, misuse of documents and theft of public funds. Each of the nine charges carries a potential of up to three years in prison and fines ranging from $4,000 to $10,000 for each count. 

The 14-page document details a whirling vortex of petty thievery and fraud, much of which sucked in other village employees, village board members and even Barton’s own daughter. On one fraudulently obtained charge card, Barton charged two expensive veterinary books. Current board president Millicent Coldren told the DA’s office the charges could be connected with Barton’s current job with veterinarian Eli Yoder, who also served on the village board during Barton’s tenure.

Evidently Barton’s daughter, Madysen Schweinler, also used a village charge card to pay for gasoline, and in an interview, Barton admitted she had used a charge card issued to Public Works Director Steve Laufenberg. Laufenberg resigned on the same day with Barton.

Research on Barton’s actions have been ongoing since shortly after her resignation. That was made more difficult, as a computer and storage unit containing nearly all of the village financial records was found to be missing after Barton’s departure. Ontario village clerk Terri Taylor has been assisting the Wilton Village Board in reconstructing the history of the village’s finances under Barton’s duration.

According to the DA document, Tim Welch and Jamie Evans were interviewed. Both had served as village president when the missing storage unit and computer were purchased. Both denied any knowledge of the purchase, and Evans noted that he was not aware of charge card purchases paid by the village evidently for unauthorized travel and dining. 

In a statement to the district attorney’s office, Barton said she intended to pay the money back but eventually became confused by the multiple accounts and assorted charges. She noted that she had used cash sewer payments that came into the office to pay back the accounts. 

It appears she had little regret, as demonstrated by her statements in the criminal complaint, 

“Barton said that she would say to herself ‘screw this place’ and she wouldn’t look at the books for two months and wouldn’t catch any of the personal expenditures.” 

In addition, she added, “Toward the end of her employment, she was just paying the bills that came into the village from the general fund and was not even looking at or verifying the charges. She stated that she “could (sic) have cared less” about the finances of the village.

Below, see the full criminal complaint regarding former Wilton clerk/treasurer Leigha Barton: