Gambling addiction connected to embezzlement charges

Published: Mar. 2, 2017 at 6:29 PM EST
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Crystal Metz, the woman accused of embezzling more than $257,000 from the Hepzibah Public Service District, has struggled with an addiction to gambling, her attorney claims.

Tom Dyer also says that his client will not dispute the charge.

According to the Harrison County Sheriff's Department, Metz embezzled took cash payments from customers and converted those payments for her own personal use. This apparently occurred over the course of four and a half years. During that time, she worked as a secretary/bookkeeper for the PSD.

Customers and those who knew her well say they were in shock when they heard the news.

"I said 'oh no,'" Delores White said, recalling the moment her daughter told her Metz had been arrested. "It was hard to believe."

People in the community say Metz was always a friendly face at the PSD and someone who donated to the local church.

"She seemed like a nice lady when you go down and pay her the bills," Louie Marra said. "I was shocked this morning when I saw it."

Behind the shock, sits anger.

"I don't think [gambling] should be an excuse for her to take it from the people who are trying to make it out in the world," said Joyce Jones, who pays her utility bills with cash.

Dyer also added that he's worried about Metz, who he says feels "horrible" and "knows she let everyone down." He says the defense will work with the prosecutor's office to try to recover the money, but it is not clear if the total sum can be salvaged.

You can hear more reaction from people in Hepzibah in the video above.