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September 19, 2012

Former Poolville ISD secretary sentenced

WEATHERFORD — A former Poolville ISD secretary who embezzled thousands of dollars from a school activity fund over a several year period pleaded guilty Thursday and was given two years probation.

 Deborah Talley Jones, 50, of Poolville, pleaded guilty to a felony charge of theft, more than $1,500, less than $20,000, according to the Parker County District Attorney’s office. She was ordered to pay $5,743 in restitution over the course of her probation, including $1,000 at the time of the plea, given a $1,000 fine and ordered to perform 100 hours of community service.

“Representatives of the school were very helpful to us in gathering information and we were able to work out a resolution that was acceptable to school authorities,” District Attorney Don Schnebly said in a statement.

The Democrat was unable to confirm how much money Jones took from the district during her time working as an administrative assistant at the elementary school.   

Jones worked for the district from August 1998 to June 8, 2011, when she resigned, the district reported last year.

According to the original allegations filed in Justice of the Peace Kelly Green’s court last year, Jones admitted to taking 12 to 13 questionable disbursements from the account between 2008 and 2011, totaling more than $9,100.

Assistant District Attorney Robert DuBoise said $5,743 was the total restitution owed at the time of the plea and referred the Democrat to Poolville ISD for questions regarding money repaid prior to the criminal investigation.

Poolville ISD Superintendent Jimmie Dobbs did not return a message before deadline.

Monies in the school activity accounts come from various fundraisers and funds are supposed to be used for a variety of things such as field trips or school supplies for classes, Dobbs told the Democrat last year.

The checking accounts are audited annually, Dobbs said.

Jones reportedly made out checks to herself, under another family member’s name or “paid to cash.” Checks for thousands of dollars listed bookshelves as the items purchased, according to the probable cause affidavit.

Others listed staff Christmas cards, snacks, teacher gifts, break room and office supplies, staff lunch and summer pay as the reason for the payment.

It was not clear how the thefts were discovered.

Dobbs said last year that the district was moving some oversight of the accounts to the central office and policy changes were being put in place.

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