Less than two years ago, Kelly Monson was a well-respected secretary for the Sherrard school district.
When she pleaded guilty to embezzling $92,000 from the district's activity funds in April, she became a convicted felon.
Tuesday afternoon, she became a prisoner, led in handcuffs from Courtroom 501 in the Rock IslandCounty Justice Center after Rock Island County Circuit Court Judge Michael Meersman sentenced her to 180 days in the Rock Island County Jail followed by four years of probation.
In a plea agreement, Ms. Monson, 47, of Sherrard, pleaded guilty to one count of theft in Rock Island County Circuit Court with the stipulation that her sentence be no more than five years in prison. She also was ordered to pay $67,306 back to the district.
Judge Meersman said he ordered that sum because it was what Ms. Monson's theft ultimately cost the school district. The district's insurance paid $75,000 of the $92,000 stolen from the activity funds. Judge Meersman said he ordered Ms. Monson to pay the $17,000 not covered by insurance plus $50,306 the district paid for a forensic audit that uncovered the theft.
Sherrard superintendent Rebecca Rodocker said activity funds cover items such as prom expenses and sports uniforms. Money in the accounts comes from fundraising efforts, rather than taxpayer money.
"This was money we had not budgeted for," Ms. Rodocker said during her testimony. "Even though we got our insurance payment, we're still down money because of this."
Judge Meersman told Ms. Monson he was sympathetic that she and her unemployed husband were having financial problems. He said he did not believe she spent the money on luxury items.
"It appears that you were using this to pay the bills,"he said. "Ican understand what occurred, but that doesn't make it right."
Judge Meersman said Ms. Monson, one of the few people who handled activity fund money, abused her position.
"Everyone trusted Kelly Monson,"he said. "That's why they never had an audit. You utilized your professional reputation to commit this offense."
After the hearing, Ms. Rodocker said the district learned they must be more careful with money. She said the district is making sure every dollar that comes in and out of the activity funds is being watched by several people to prevent similar thefts.
"That money is painstakingly earned,"she said.
Ms. Rodocker said she was surprised when she learned Ms. Monson was embezzling. The district can now finally move on from the incident, she said.
"She was a very well-liked and well-respected employee,"Ms. Rodocker said. "I'm just glad it's over."