By Chad Frey

Newton Kansan

A former employee of the Newton Area Chamber of Commerce made off with about $25,000 in "Newton Bucks," according to the Harvey County Attorney's office.

Kayla Tillery, 43, of Newton was charged with forgery of $5,500 of the Newton Bucks checks and theft of $25,000 from the Newton Bucks program following her Tuesday arrest.

According to the Harvey County Attorney's office, she is being held in the Harvey County Jail on a $50,000 bond. She made a first appearance today in front of Judge Joe Dickenson.

Tillery allegedly printed off the Newton bucks, forged signatures to make them usable and handed them out to family and friends without collecting money.

According to the Kansas Department of Corrections website authorities released Tillery in 2008, after she served time on multiple convictions for writing bad checks, forgery and theft.

Tillery was listed as a recent hire by the chamber in the organization's January newsletter. She was listed as an Operations Specialist and Program Coordinator, who was put in charge of refining the Chamberís operational systems including, "incorporating a more streamlined process for the Newton Bucks program." Friday afternoon the Chamber of Commerce notified area businesses that there was trouble with a gift certificate program administrated by the organization.

The "Newton Bucks" program, which is a gift certificate program that allows purchasers to use the certificates at participating Newton business, was "compromised," according to the email.

The program allows persons to purchase a gift-certificate that can be used at about 30 chamber member businesses.