Public schools teach millions of students each year and consequently require sizable budgets to remain in operation. According to statistics, Tennessee’s public education budget in 2011 alone was $28.41 billion, though the state reported a $1 billion shortfall the previous year.
In most cases, the budget given just isn’t enough to ensure that all students have the classroom, books, and teachers they need. Sometimes, the deficit is worsened when the people entrusted with the money pocket it for themselves. Such is the allegation leveled against a former Alcoa City Schools employee. As TheDailyTimes.com reports:
A former Alcoa City Schools employee is suspected of embezzling $428,077 from three state organizations, including $344,204 from the school district, between July 1, 2007, and May 16, 2013.
Kathy Winters, who is a former federal projects administrative assistant, diverted $344,203.79 worth of Alcoa City Schools funds for personal use, according to an investigative audit conducted by the Tennessee Comptroller of the Treasury and Tennessee Bureau of Investigation. She also allegedly diverted $82,636.79 in Tennessee Attendance Supervisors Steering Committee (TASSC) funds and $1,236.36 in East Tennessee Attendance Supervisors Association (ETASA) funds.
“We’re angry, shocked and saddened by these allegations, which deprived our most vulnerable students, our special needs students, of critical resources,” said Alcoa Director of Schools Brian Bell. “We will seek every legal means to get restitution, and we will do it immediately.”
A trusted Gallatin criminal lawyer like Atty. Kenneth J. Phillips recognizes that embezzlement is treated as a felony offense in Tennessee, which means that the minimum jail time imposed for this offense is one year. Cases of this magnitude, however, are considered Class B felonies, which can lead to 8-30 years of imprisonment.
Of course, not everyone charged with embezzlement is guilty of the crime, and there are many defense strategies an attorney in Gallatin, TN can use to prove his client’s innocence. For one, there may not be enough evidence to convict a defendant. Indeed, statistics show that 40% of embezzlement charges are dropped for this reason.
It is also possible that the person who committed the crime may have been coerced or threatened into doing it. Likewise, an individual may simply and mistakenly have taken possession of something, in which case there is no criminal intent present. In any case, the chances of acquittal relies greatly on the skill of the defendant’s lawyer.
(Former Alcoa City Schools employee Winters suspected of embezzling $428,077 from three organizations, TheDailyTimes.com, March 5, 2014)