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Judge puts ruling on hold in plea deal
Tuesday, April 8, 2014
By BULLETIN STAFF REPORTS -
Henry County Circuit Court Judge David V. Williams will decide in June whether to accept a plea agreement offered Monday for a woman charged with embezzling more than $18,000 from a local school.
Assistant Henry County Commonwealth’s Attorney Randy Smith said Tammie Terrell Millner accepted an agreement in which she would plead guilty to three counts of embezzlement, totaling $18,257.58 over a three-year period, from Axton Elementary School.
Smith said it was was unusual that the judge did not decide Monday whether he would accept the plea agreement.
Although Millner and her attorney, Perry Harrold, had signed the plea agreement — which specified restitution of $18,257.58 — Smith said Harrold asked for a future hearing on the amount of the restitution.
Millner oversaw the school’s funds, Smith said.
The amount specified as restitution was based on an audit by Dawn Lawson, chief financial officer for the Henry County School Division, Smith said. Lawson conducted a “surprise audit” of the school’s records after a discrepancy arose, he added.
After finding some funds were missing, a “more formal audit” began by the professional auditing firm of Creedle, Jones and Alga of South Hill, Smith said. The firm delved into previous years of the school’s records, he said.
The firm concluded that in the 2010-11 school year, $1,664.67 allegedly was embezzled, Smith said. The firm also suggested that $6,486.70 allegedly was missing in the 2011-12 school year and $10,292.97 allegedly was missing in 2012-13, for a total of $18,444.34, he said.
Smith said Lawson suggested some changes to the auditor’s findings. For instance, the auditing firm assumed in its calculations that all of the school’s yearbooks had been sold, when 15 or so had not been sold, he said.
“There were a couple more minor things” that Lawson did not agree with contained in the auditor’s report, Smith said. “... It amounted to like a $300 difference,” he said. Lawson recommended the lower figure of $18,257.58, he said.
“That’s what we did. We took the one best in favor of the defendant,” he said.
According to a summary of facts presented Monday, Lawson found no deposit record of more than $1,500 collected from Axton Elementary School teachers for photos, Smith said. Also, there were no deposits of funds collected by teachers to support a “Jump Rope for Life” event, and nearly $2,000 was missing from a March 2013 book fair, Smith said.
Millner allegedly told Lawson and two other school officials “she would cut to the chase and ... (that) she had stolen the money,” Smith said after court. Later, when interviewed by police, that statement allegedly was reiterated, he said.
As Lawson “continued to delve into the situation,” she found additional funds missing, Smith said.
Investigators returned to talk to Millner, who allegedly said, “‘I took money so many times, I don’t know how much I took or remember when I took it,’” Smith said, referring to the statement of facts he read in court.
Millner allegedly told authorities that she used the money to pay medical bills; tuition for herself and her daughter; and to pay for her daughter’s wedding in February 2013, according to Smith.