Ex-Cottonwood Shores mayor indicted in alleged library theft in 2013

JANELLE LONG

FROM STAFF REPORTS

COTTONWOOD SHORES — A Burnet County grand jury indicted a former Cottonwood Shores mayor and another woman earlier in May for allegedly making off with between $5,000 and $10,000 in equipment and supplies from the Cottonwood Shores Library in May 2013.

Former Cottonwood Shores mayor Janelle Long, 66, and Rebecca Sullivan, 58, face state jail felony theft charges for allegedly taking numerous items, including computers, office supplies, furniture and a laundry list of things from the library. They are the second and third people charged in the act.

In April, the grand jury indicted former Cottonwood Shores administrator Janet Kay Taylor-Carusi, 56, in the alleged theft as well.

JANELLE LONG
JANELLE LONG

Cottonwood Shores Police Chief Harold Piatt said he believes the three acted out of “retaliation” to the community after voters selected Donald Orr over Long in the May 2013 mayoral election. Long had been the mayor since 2011 after the council appointed her to that position. Soon after the election, Piatt said the three entered the library and basically intimidated the two elderly librarians in order to take numerous items.

“And they took so much of the equipment, they functionally closed the (library),” the chief said. “They virtually took everything that wasn’t nailed down except for the shelves and the books.”

All three face theft of property charges between $1,500 and $20,000.

After the alleged theft, officials had to close the library for about a month and a half until they could replace much of the equipment and supplies. The replacements came from city funds and donations, the chief said.

Piatt said the suspects claimed they were simply recouping items donated through a local charity to the library. According to the chief, the suspects claimed under the charity’s by-laws that if the library closed, the group could reclaim the donated items.

“But the library did not close,” he pointed out. “They closed it when they took the property.”

Plus, he added, that after a individual, group or entity donates something to an organization, it belongs to that organization and the giver has no right to take it back.

Though the city has replaced many of the allegedly stolen items, Piatt said he will continue to work to recover the missing items.

Taylor-Carusi was arrested April 22 and booked into the Burnet County Jail. She bonded out later the same day.

Piatt said Long and Sullivan turned themselves in May 16. Both bonded out later the same day.

If convicted, the suspects could face up to two years in state jail and up to a $10,000 fine.

On May 10, Long lost her bid for the Cottonwood City Place 3 council seat.

Staff writer Connie Swinney contributed to this article.

editor@thepicayune.com