CLINTON — A Clinton woman received a suspended sentence for the theft of funds from the Clinton School District Band Boosters account.
Amanda B. Johns, 38, appeared Thursday in Clinton County District Court as Judge Mark Lawson handed down the sentence. The state of Iowa, represented by Assistant Clinton County Attorney Ross Barlow, recommended that Johns be granted a suspended sentence so she can continue working while under probation in order to pay back the Band Boosters. The state recommended against a deferred judgment because of Johns' age and because the crime she pleaded guilty to was not of an impulsive nature, but rather an ongoing series of actions that unfolded over several months.
Johns was represented by Defense Attorney Harold DeLange, who argued for a deferred judgment for his client because she had no other felony offenses on her record. DeLange added that although the theft of money from the Band Boosters account was the result of a series of actions, the state grouped all of those charges into one offense, meaning she is accused of a single felony offense. Lawson then asked Johns if she had anything she wanted to say.
"I would like to apologize to all affected by my actions," Johns said. "I certainly was wrong in what I did. I'm looking forward to having this resolved and to pay what is due back."
In rendering his decision, Lawson acknowledged that this was a difficult case. He said that looking at her criminal record, she would be a good candidate for a deferred judgment. He added that if Johns was not in a position to pay back the boosters, she would be looking at very different circumstances and likely would be going to prison.
Lawson told Johns that two factors weighed against her in his decision. One was the amount of the money taken over a long period of time. He said that while it would still be wrong, if this had been a one time transgression in order to care for a sick child or pay for some other emergency, the court may be more willing to consider a deferred judgment. He said the other factor working against her was earlier statements where she did not take responsibility for her actions, but instead claimed she had been trying to keep the money safe.
Lawson suspended Johns' prison sentence of up to 10 years and a fine of $1,000. Johns was placed on probation for three years and ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $7,494.51.
The affidavit shows that the state auditor completed an investigation into the Band Boosters and provided a report to the public dated Jan. 22, 2016. The investigation identified $38,353.88 of improper and unsupported disbursements and undeposited collections by Johns, who was the treasurer of the Clinton High School Band Boosters. Of that amount, $28,838.20 of improper disbursements identified included $18,601.03 in cash withdrawals, $10,125.41 in checks written to Johns or her husband and payments to vendors totaling $111.76.
The affidavit states an officer interviewed Johns, who told the officer she withdrew cash from the Band Boosters checking account between October 2014 and January 2015 and put it in her personal checking account. She told the officer she did this to protect the funds from Clinton High School. Johns admitted that because she did not keep track of her own spending, she spent money intended for the Band Boosters for personal reasons. Johns said she believed she had taken $23,000 from the Band Boosters account, which she felt she had to replace because the funds were improperly disbursed.