The former Southeastern Local School Board member who pleaded guilty to theft in office won’t see any time in prison.
Tammy Stoops was sentenced in Madison County Common Pleas Court Thursday on the felony charge. She told the judge she stole about $1,800 at her job with Madison County’s juvenile court to take care of her two sons.
“I was separated and at that time there was no support,” Stoops said to the judge. “I was raising both boys.”
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A visiting judge sentenced her to 18 months in jail, but it was suspended. Stoops also received five years of community control and must pay restitution and court costs. The fourth degree felony charge carried a maximum sentence of 18 months in prison.
“What I did was wrong,” she said before the sentence was read. “There’s no taking that back.”
She intended to pay the money back, she told the court, but was fired from her job in August before she could do that.
Her former boss at the Madison County Juvenile Court, Judge Christopher Brown, recommended a prison sentence to set an example for other public servants.
“There must be swift, certain and severe consequences for Ms. Stoops,” he said in a statement to the court.
She probably avoided prison time because she has no criminal record, said Robert Smith, deputy legal council for the Ohio Auditor’s Office.
Smith, who prosecuted the case, said the sentence was reasonable, but that he normally recommends prison time for anyone convicted of theft in office.
“It sends a message to the public that their public officials will be held accountable,” he said.
Stoops was re-elected to her Southeastern school board seat one day after the news of her criminal indictment broke.
“When you live with someone in a community you want to think the best about them,” Southeastern Superintendent David Shea said.
There’s no evidence Stoops stole from the school district, he said. She resigned her seat the same day she pleaded guilty in April. Her seat on the school board has been filled.