(BEDFORD) - 57-year-old Kathy Kirk was sentenced to two years in prison Tuesday morning after admitting to stealing more than $110,000 from the Mitchell Community School System.
Kirk served as Mitchell Community School treasurer. She had worked for the school system for 38 years.
Circuit Court Judge Andrea McCord gave Kirk 24 hours to report to the Lawrence County Jail to begin her prison term with the Indiana Department of Correction.
Kirk entered into a plea agreement, and plead guilty to corrupt business influence, a Class C felony; forgery, a Class C felony, and theft, a Class D felony.
Kirk told the court she took full responsibility for what she'd done.
"I have hurt my family, and I have hurt my friends. I've caused them embarrassment and shame," Kirk said. "I want to apologize to the school and my community because I have let them down."
During questioning by court-appointed attorney John Plummer III, Kirk said she hasn't found employment since being fired from the school corporation and that her husband is disabled and unable to work.
The woman, who made about $42,000 a year at MCS, now draws about $700 a month from retirement. That is what she and her husband live on. She testified to having debt in excess of $600,000.
Kirk and her husband live in Mitchell in a 1972 single-wide mobile home, valued at $800, on which they owe $600.
When asked how she and her husband got to court Tuesday morning, Kirk said they came in a Mazda that has been repossessed and is awaiting takeover by the bank.
When asked by Plummer why she took the money, Kirk said it was when she and her family "got between a rock and hard place." And it was money she always intended to repay.
During questioning from Lawrence County Prosecutor Michelle Woodward, Kirk said she had used some of the money to pay for a child's tuition, to pay the Internal Revenue Service, for a child who had an overseas phone bill that was about $5,000, and for a personal credit card bill a couple of times.
Plummer said that the company that bonded Kirk for $200,000 has agreed to repay the schools the full amount of $110,889.59 that was taken. The company has indicated it will attempt to recoup the money from Kirk in a civil court.
He asked McCord to sentence Kirk to serve her time on house arrest.
Woodward argued aggravating circumstances - betraying the position of trust with the school corporation and its finances and the large amount of money taken - outweighed the mitigators. And a prison term was appropriate.
McCord agreed "large, amount taken from the school system" makes the prison time appropriate.
Kirk, through Plummer, asked she be allowed to report to the county security center for processing into the state prison system sometime after Christmas.
Woodward, however, objected and McCord agreed that was too long before she began serving the sentence. The judge ordered Kirk to report to the jail by noon Wednesday.
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