Sunday, February 7, 2010

Omaha Day care theft ends with jail

Amy E. Colling has lost her job as a kindergarten teacher, she has had to explain her embezzlement to her three children and on Friday, she became an inmate at the Douglas County Jail.

She must serve four months of a six month jail sentence for theft by unlawful taking of more than $1,500. The other two months could be waived if Colling successfully completes five years of probation and meets her restitution obligation.
Still, Douglas County District Judge Thomas Otepka expressed doubt that Colling, 43, has fully owned up to her theft from the Kids for Jesus preschool and day care.
If Colling, the former executive director of Kids for Jesus, hasn't been up front with family and friends about the extent of her crime, Otepka said his sentencing should provide a clearer picture. He recounted the discrepancy between what Colling claims to have stolen — no more than $25,000 — and what 10 people combing financial records for two weeks concluded — $91,000, at a minimum.
The crime was carried out during a three-year period, beginning in 2003. Otepka didn't discuss Colling's motivation, but he did outline a few of the items bought with the stolen money, including furniture, shrimp, an Xbox video game system, a computer.
If people understand the magnitude of the crime and still offer their support, "that's great," Otepka said. "But how your family didn't have a clue, I don't know."
Colling is the wife of Omaha police Officer Chris Colling. Two of the couple's children are in college, a third is a senior in high school.
Colling apologized to her family, friends and the church in court, saying she regretted her "lack of judgment" and the stress and embarrassment she has caused.
"I did not mean to hurt anyone. I tried to right my wrong from the beginning."
Otepka said he regretted that the church wouldn't be fully reimbursed for its loss. Colling has taken out a second mortgage on the family's home — valued at $185,000 — to pay $12,000 in restitution. For the next five years, she also must pay the church $350 every month, or an additional $21,000.


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