Two-term Dawes County Treasurer Barb Sebesta, who pleaded No Contest earlier this month to 3 counts of official misconduct, has resigned and been succeeded on an interim basis by her chief deputy, Rhonda Schleuning.
Sebesta’s letter of resignation was accepted by the county commissioners Tuesday morning and took effect immediately. She did not attend the commissioners’ session.
Sebesta had accepted a plea agreement after being indicted by the attorney general’s office on 6 misdemeanor counts and 1 felony count of forgery, all stemming from a highly critical state audit in 2015 but none including accusations of personal gains.
The 3 counts of official misconduct cited Sebesta for failing to follow proper procedures including failing to collect sales tax or sales tax forms in a timely manner or at all in some cases.
She faces up to 6-months in jail and a $1,000 fine for each of the 3 No Contest pleas, which are treated as guilty pleas for sentencing. Her plea agreement also calls for paying $546 restitution to the city of Chadron
In her letter of resignation, Sebesta said the decision to step down 16-plus months before the end of her term was a difficult one, and emphasized she did not “intentionally harm” the county or its taxpayers, calling it a “privilege” to serve the public.
Sebesta admitted making “mistakes, as we all do” but objected to some of the characterizations made about her in recent months…writing “I am not the person that some have made me out to be” and that she was “proud” of her public service and the good she’s done for the community.
The Dawes County Commissioners are now advertising the vacancy in the treasurer’s position, but haven’t set an exact timetable. The person they appoint will through the end of next year and will be eligible to run for the full 4-year term on next year’s ballot.