By Sarah Hogsed
Register News Writer
Madison Circuit Judge Jean C. Logue denied a motion for probation Thursday and sentenced a former Foley Middle School bookkeeper to five years in prison.
Tonya E. Gill, 40, entered an Alford plea March 29, admitting there was enough evidence to convict her of stealing nearly $31,000 from the school’s activity fund from August 2009 to August 2010.
Gill’s attorney, Michael Eubanks, made a case for sentencing her to probation or home incarceration.
“She takes what happened very seriously,” Eubanks said.
Eubanks said she has a “strong family support system,” and she has a job awaiting her at her father’s sawmill. She wants to start working immediately to pay restitution to the school system, Eubanks said.
He emphasized that Gill had no criminal record.
After she entered her plea last month, Gill reported to jail on her own and had served 33 days at the time of Thursday’s sentencing. Eubanks has submitted a motion for shock probation since a person has to serve at least 30 days in jail before becoming eligible.
Eubanks also asked the judge to consider alternative sentencing in which Gill would be under home incarceration.
Commonwealth’s Attorney David Smith strongly opposed probation.
He noted that Gill didn’t steal tax dollars or funds from a private company but rather money that parents and their children had raised for extracurricular activities. He called those activities, such as dances, sports events and field trips, “a vital part of their education.”
“I don’t think probation is appropriate when you steal from children,” Smith said.
Logue said it was common, in her experience, that people placed in positions of trust who commit crimes of this nature often don’t have a criminal history.
“Unfortunately we see law-abiding citizens commit this kind of crime,” Logue said.
Logue sentenced Gill to five years in prison.
“I don’t believe probation is appropriate at this time,” Logue said.
Sarah Hogsed can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 624-6694.