The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

Clinton

May 10, 2013

UPDATED: Former employee sentenced in Ashford theft

Powers receives deferred judgement

CLINTON — UPDATED - 5/10/2013 at 9:15 a.m.: A deferred judgment was granted to a former Ashford University employee who stole more than $62,000.

"The decisions I made were extremely irresponsible and selfish," Stacy Powers, 28, of Camanche, said in Clinton County District Court on Thursday. "I'm incredibly sorry for all the people affected. I let a lot of people down."

Her voice breaking, Powers said that someday she will have to tell her daughter what she did. She added that she hopes to be honest with her and tell her that she made a mistake.

Powers pleaded guilty to theft in the first degree on April 4. This charge is a class C felony, which carries with it as many as 10 years in prison and a fine of between $1,000 and $10,000. The charge was filed against Powers on Jan. 31.

The amount of money stolen can be up for revision, Judge Gary McKenrick said. A hearing may be held at a later date, possibly in the fall when Ashford returns to school, Clinton County Attorney Mike Wolf said, to determine if restitution decreases, increases or stays the same.

Wolf said that it is sad that Powers was in court. He told the court he has spoken with her former employer and colleagues.

"It's true that they do care about her," Wolf said.

Wolf added that Powers has done many great things in her life. He said leaders from the community have voiced support for her and expressed that they did not want to see her incarcerated. Wolf recommended that she receive a suspended prison sentence and probation.

According to court records, she served as the Student Development and Activities coordinator for Ashford University between August 2008 and April 27, 2012, before being placed on administrative leave. A police report was filed by an Ashford University representative on May 7, 2012, stating that Powers used the student government account to make unauthorized withdrawals and debit card purchases between Jan. 2, 2009, and April 26, 2012.

Wolf told the court that each individual student paid into that account to support student activities. He added that because the theft happened over such a long period of time, he does not consider it an aberration or one-time incident.  

Powers' attorney Robert McGee told McKenrick that this behavior is out of character for Powers.  He noted that she has no previous criminal record. He said she will need to continue working in order to pay restitution and help support her family. A felony on her record could make employment difficult. He asked the judge to acknowledge that humans can suffer from weakness.

"We don't think she'll ever be back in the system," McGee said.

McKenrick agreed that a deferred judgment is the best sentence to allow rehabilitation for Powers. Wolf asked she be required to complete 500 hours of community service as extra punishment. McGee felt this would prevent her from working and asked for less hours.

Powers will be required to complete 5 years of probation and 500 hours of community service. She is required to pay $62,188.08 in restitution to Ashford University, barring any dispute in the amount. A $1,000 fine was suspended. A charge of tampering with records was dismissed.

____

Original copy: A former Ashford University employee received a deferred judgment for stealing more than $62,000.

Judge Gary McKenrick said that a deferred judgement is the best opportunity for rehabilitation for Stacy Powers, 28, of 1505 Lawrence Ave., Camanche, who has no previous criminal record.

Powers pleaded guilty to theft in the first degree on April 4. This charge is a class C felony, which carries with it as many as 10 years in prison and a fine of between $1,000 and $10,000. The charge was filed against Powers on Jan. 31.

The amount of money stolen can be up for revision, McKenrick said. A hearing may be held at a later date, possibly in the fall when Ashford returns to school, Clinton County Attorney Mike Wolf said, to determine if restitution decreases, increases or stays the same.

Powers served as the Student Development and Activities coordinator for Ashford University between August 2008 and April 27, 2012, before being placed on administrative leave, according to court documents.

Wolf said in court that Powers stole funds from the Student Government Association account, which she was in charge of. This fund was comprised of money paid by students to support student activities.

A police report was initially filed by a representative of Ashford University on May 7, 2012, stating that  Powers used the student government account to make unauthorized withdrawals and debit card purchases between Jan. 2, 2009, and April 26, 2012.

Powers' attorney Robert McGee told the court that this behavior is out of character for his client. However, Wolf said that because it happened over such a long period of time, it was not an aberration or one-time incident. Wolf recommended that she receive a suspended sentence and probation, opposed to a deferred judgment.

"It's with great sadness that we have to be here today," Wolf said.

He reported that many leaders of the community offered support for Powers. He agreed that she has done a lot of great things in her life as well.

McGee asked for the deferred judgment so that Powers would still be able to find employment so she can pay restitution and help support her family. He told the court that even the justice system understands that humans suffer from weakness.

"There is forgiveness in the system," McGee said.

Powers told the court that she regrets her actions. She will be required to complete 5 years of probation and 500 hours of community service. She will be required to pay $62,188.08 in restitution to Ashford University. A $1,000 fine was suspended.

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