Patricia Ann Davis' embezzlement from Kalamazoo Public Schools began small, but it snowballed to the point she lost count of how much she had stolen.
In the end, the former administrative assistant in the human resources department stole more than $20,000 between January 2006 and July 2013.
"She yielded to temptation. She took a bite. That made the second and third bite easier to take," said attorney Keith Turpel, who represented Davis in the case. "I don't think she realized just how much she took."
Davis, a 30-year employee for KPS and volunteer in the faith community in Kalamazoo, was sentenced to five years of probation Monday in Kalamazoo Circuit Court on one count of embezzlement. She was also ordered to pay state fees and restitution of $20,054.
The district discovered the embezzlement during an internal audit in July 2013, prompting Davis to lose her job with the district. The embezzlement involve misuse of a district credit card.
In the days leading up to her sentence, the court received several letters from area pastors in support of Davis.
Judge Gary Giguere said it was a case of a good person doing a bad thing. Giguere described Davis, 51, as an "upstanding community leader, who was a good wife, good mother, involved in the very fabric of the community."
But at the same time, Giguere said, she was also "slowly defrauding the public school system she worked for."
For her part, Davis apologized, saying "I didn't intend to hurt anyone."
In response to the embezzlement, Kalamazoo Public Schools has added control procedures to ensure that existing procedures are consistently followed, according to district spokesman Alex Lee.