Former school official ordered to repay money

Published 5:00 am Thursday, August 15, 2002

A former business director of the Lincoln County School Districthas been ordered to repay over $14,000 to the district afterpleading guilty to embezzlement and uttering forgery charges.

Janet Smith, 42, of 1583 West Lincoln Dr., pleaded guiltyTuesday to four counts of embezzlement and two counts of utteringforgery, according to Lincoln County Circuit Court records. She wassentenced to three years, suspended with each count to runconcurrently, and was ordered to repay $14,235, including audit andinvestigation fees, in connection with the charges that spannedfrom February 1999 to December 2000.

Judge Mike Smith granted a request from Smith’s attorney BobbyMoak to place her on non-adjudicated probation. Although not in thesentencing recommendation, prosecutors did not object to thedefense request.

Subscribe to our free email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

The legal move means Janet Smith was not judged guilty, butcould be ruled guilty if she violates conditions of her 18 monthson non-adjudicated probation. Smith has that period of time torepay the stolen funds.

“An important consideration for us was that we get the moneyback for the school district,” said Assistant District AttorneyDiane Jones in discussing the plea agreement.

The non-adjudication move also means Smith’s record would becleared if she meets conditions of the plea agreement.

Lincoln County Superintendent of Education Perry Miller said hewas satisfied with restitution being a requirement of the sentence.He did not comment on other aspects of the sentence, saying thosewere legal decisions.

“I think restitution was certainly appropriate,” Millersaid.

Smith resigned her position with the school district after adisclaimer was given following an audit of the district’s 1999-2000records. Miller said problems had been addressed and preliminaryaudit results indicate the district is back in good financialstanding with the state.

In other sentencing this week in circuit court, Rhonda Russell,also known as Rhonda Rose, 27, of 1069 California Road, was orderedto serve three years of a total 25-year sentence after pleadingguilty to one count of burglary and four counts of utteringforgery. The remainder of the sentence will be on post-releasesupervision.

Russell was also ordered to obtain long-term alcohol and drugtreatment, attend Alcoholics Anonymous meetings once a week for ayear after release, pay a $500 fine and $750 in attorneys’ fees andcourt costs. Her sentence was also to run concurrent with probationrevocation in another case.

Also sentenced Wednesday were:

* Curtis D. Acy, 31, of 2269 Jackson-Liberty Dr. – first degreearson. He was sentenced to eight years in prison and ordered toserve the first six and a half, with the remainder suspended forfive years probation.

Acy was also ordered to pay a $5,000 fine, $1,000 restitution toDella’s Motel, $13,113 restitution to the insurance company, $750in attorney’s fees and pay any outstanding bad checks. He was alsoto obtain alcohol and drug treatment while incarcerated.

* Orlantha Pandora Washington, 28, of 809 Avenue E, McComb -unlawful sale of cocaine. She was sentenced to 15 years and orderedto serve the first seven, with the last eight on post releasesupervision. She was also ordered to pay a $6,500 fine and $240restitution.