Friday, July 5, 2013

Former Lafayette School director sentenced to 20 days for embezzlement in Virginia


Tears streamed down Mary Anderson’s cheeks as she asked an Albemarle County circuit judge for a second chance to “prove [her] character.”
"I ask God to forgive me daily," Anderson , 41, said. "What I regret most is that others had to suffer ... because of my wrongdoing."
Albemarle Circuit Judge Paul Peatross sentenced Anderson to 20 days in jail for embezzling about $27,000 from a school for children with emotional and behavioral problems.
She pleaded guilty in April to taking the money from the Lafayette School and Treatment Center in Charlottesville from 2008 to 2011, court records state. In court Wednesday, Anderson said she had intended to pay every penny back.
Peatross sentenced her to 10 years in prison and suspended all but 20 days of that time on the condition that she maintain good behavior for 10 years.
"Cases like this are difficult for the court too; I've struggled with them my whole career," Peatross said. "Every time you diverted money from the school for personal use, you committed a crime. It is something dishonest you did. It is a breach of trust."
Anderson must serve at least 85 percent, or 17 days, of that active sentence under Virginia's truth-in-sentencing guidelines.
Anderson, who served as a nurse, administrator and therapist at the K-12 school on Fontaine Avenue, has repaid the $10,200 that she still owed Lafayette when she was arrested in December.
"Regardless of my intent to pay back the money that I used, I cannot disguise my actions," Anderson said. "My family has lost its house. … I'm sure my children have lost some respect for me."
Sheriff's deputies passed out wads of tissues Wednesday as supporters testified on Anderson 's behalf.  Friends and relatives described the former school director, therapist and nurse as warm, generous and career-oriented.
"She's an angel on earth," said longtime friend Karen Garrison. “Mary's just a wonderful person. I bless the day I met her."
Lafayette administrators at the time of Anderson's arrest said they'd laid off three of 12 employees around Thanksgiving because of the school's financial problems.
Anderson resigned from the school in October 2011 and her replacements,  Barret and Charles Stump, notified authorities in March 2012 of discrepancies in the center’s financial records, police said.
Anderson is scheduled to report to the Albemarle-Charlottesville Regional Jail on Monday.

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