A former bookkeeper who plead guilty to embezzling more than $29,000 from Salem and Wheatland school districts will serve 90 days in jail and two years on probation.
Mary K. Anderson, 55, of Paddock Lake, who had also served for more than a decade on the Central High School Board of Education, was charged in June 2016 with forgery and theft-false representation. She was sentenced Friday, and she is expected to report to Kenosha County Jail on March 24 to serve her sentence
Both the prosecution and defense had recommended that Anderson received probation rather than prison time, although she could have been sentenced to up to six years in prison for the felony conviction.
Circuit Court Judge David Bastianelli said he felt some jail time was necessary. “You’re going to serve 90 days in County Jail, and I think I’m being lenient on that to be honest with you,” Bastianelli told Anderson.
In sentencing Anderson, Bastianelli compared her case to that of Terra Mener of the former Randall parent-teacher organization, who pled guilty to taking $25,000 from that organization. Bastianelli sentenced Mener to 18 months in prison.
“One difference there is the nature of the victim,” Bastianelli said, saying that, in taking PTO funds, Mener was taking money more directly from children’s programs.
As part of her plea agreement, Anderson agreed to repay the districts and their insurance company a total of $47,380, which includes both repayment of the money she skimmed and the districts’ costs of hiring attorneys and forensic accountants to ferret out unauthorized payments.
According to the criminal complaint, Anderson was the bookkeeper at Salem School District from 2006 to August 2014.
She then left Salem for a job as human resources finance specialist at Wheatland before being fired for making unauthorized purchases for her own use. Her supervisors in Salem also discovered financial irregularities in the books and records she maintained.
Anderson used her control over the district’s payroll to pay herself for unearned overtime, and used school funds to purchase things for herself and to cover personal expenses.
Anderson tearfully apologized in court Friday, saying she was sorry for the impact her crime had had on her family and the community.
“I am truly ashamed of my actions, and I take full responsibility for them,” she said.