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Ex-fair official to serve 9 months

The former president of a Michigan county fair board will serve nine months in jail after his admitted theft of more than $4,000 from the organization.

The man, 39, who oversaw the Bay County Fair Board, was arrested earlier this year and pleaded guilty to one count each of forgery and embezzlement of between $1,000 and $20,000 in July. He failed to show up in court in September for his scheduled sentencing hearing because of a medical issue.

At the most recent hearing, however, the Bay County circuit judge sentenced him to 273 days in jail, plus 61 additional days deferred. The man also must pay nearly $4,200 in restitution, fines and costs.

The two charges to which he pleaded guilty both are felonies. The forgery charge carries a maximum charge of 14 years in prison, and the embezzlement charge potentially could have sent the man to prison for five years.

The man had admitted to stealing from the fair board from November 2011 into January 2012. The crime came to light on Jan. 15, 2012, when a check for $1,000 that had been legitimately issued by the fair board's treasurer was returned for insufficient funds. At that time, the board questioned the man and then brought him in to the Michigan State Police.

When first questioned, the man said he had nothing to do with the missing funds. When interviewed by state police again, the man made a written confession spelling out what he had done and said he was sorry for lying. In his confession, the man said he needed the money to assist a friend and had intended to give the funds back.

According to court filings, the man wrote 22 checks in all amounting to $4,309. Surveillance cameras monitoring at least three bank branches recorded the transactions.

Stealing from an organization never is proper, especially when placed in a position of authority. The judge, however, accepted his remorse and gave him a light sentence compared to what he could have faced.

Source: MLive, "Ex-Bay County Fair Board president gets nine months in jail for embezzlement," Cole Waterman, Dec. 6, 2012

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