ELIZABETH - A former Wirt County teacher and coach who pleaded guilty to embezzlement last year will spend more than two weeks in jail, three years on probation and make full restitution to the school district.
Circuit Court Judge Robert Waters sentenced Christy Wilson on Tuesday to three years probation, up to 300 hours of community service and ordered her to make restitution of almost $9,000 to the Wirt County Board of Education.
In addition to the probation, Waters also handed the 39-year-old Wilson 15 days to immediately begin in the North Central Regional Jail. Wilson pleaded guilty to felony embezzlement in December.
Photo by Jody Murphy
Christy Wilson and her attorney, William Summers, sit in court Tuesday in Elizabeth.
Wilson, a teacher and coach in Wirt County, took concessions and other proceeds while serving as treasurer of the band boosters.
"I realize people think the worst of me and I can't change that," she said. "I take responsibility for my actions."
Both Wilson and her attorney, William Summers, disputed the state's claim that Wilson embezzled almost $9,000 from the group. Wilson maintains she took only $3,600.
Christy Wilson received three years probation, community service and full restitution from Circuit Court Judge Robert Waters.
Wilson's attorney, William Summers, suggested Wilson forfeit her teacher's retirement account of about $6,000 in favor of restitution.
Officials successfully argued Wilson owed almost $9,000.
She did not apologize for the theft.
In her statement to the judge, Wilson focused on her family, noting the embarrassment and pain she caused them, especially her high school-aged daughter. Wilson, who cried as she read the first part of her statement, said she wanted to see her daughter graduate this spring.
"I don't want to disappoint her any more than I already have," she said.
No members of Wilson's family were in the courtroom.
Wilson previously told the judge she suffers from bipolar disorder, a condition diagnosed about nine years ago. Wilson said she has been taking medication for the disorder as well as for a recent surgery.
Summers said Wilson is on Social Security disability.
Wilson told the court she had been honest with officials during the investigation and she only took $3,600 from the booster group.
"My client admitted to taking what she took," Summers said.
Wilson said the money came from concession stand proceeds, mostly from Wirt County High School football games during the 2010 season. According to the criminal complaint, Wilson is alleged to have taken money until February 2011.
Wilson said she used the money to pay bills.
Wirt County Prosecutor Leslie Maze said Wilson's claims did not match the projections of Karen Cummings, the treasurer of the Wirt County Board of Education and a certified public accountant. Maze said based on Cummings' record of concession revenue from Wirt County football games in 2009 and 2011, officials project Wilson took closer to $9,000.
Cummings and Wirt County Schools Superintendent Dan Metz were present and explained the procedure used to reach the projections.
Maze noted, in addition to the missing money from the concession stands, the boosters were also missing money from parking proceeds during the county fair and a homecoming event.
Summers said the number was a projection and one he doubted the state could prove. He suggested Wilson would forfeit her teacher retirement account of about $6,000 for restitution.
"Take the $6,000, minus the taxes, and turn it over to the school and everyone just walks away," he said. "We hope that restitution would satisfy everyone."
It didn't satisfy Metz, who labeled the effort a start. Metz said the kids were the victims and without the generosity of parents, the community and a generous benefactor, the boosters would have been bankrupted by Wilson's actions.
Summers went so far as to blame the officials who hired Wilson as treasurer. He referred to a six-page letter Wilson penned to her probationary officer detailing previous financial legal troubles in Wood County.
"She has a criminal history almost exclusively dealing with bad checks," he said. "She's not good with managing her money or someone else's money."
Wilson's letter is not public record and the defense declined to release a copy to The News and Sentinel. A check of Wood County magistrate records revealed Wilson had two charges of worthless checks in 2005.
Wilson, who was a teacher at the Wirt County Primary Center, was placed on suspension since her arrest last June.
When she pleaded guilty in December, she attempted to resign, submitting a letter of resignation to Metz. Rather than accept her resignation, Wilson, who also was the varsity softball coach, was fired last month by the board of education.
In addition to forfeiting her retirement, Metz said state officials are seeking to revoke her teaching certificate.
Metz also asked the court to order Wilson to remove any mention of being a teacher or coach in the Wirt County school system from her Facebook page.
Metz said school officials have taken steps to ensure the crime doesn't happen again, but he conceded that ultimately people must be trusted.
"You have to trust the honesty of your employees," he said. "I'm disappointed this happened. You trust people to do the right thing and they don't."