Sentence handed down to former Morgan employee

Published 11:02pm Thursday, December 13, 2012

Former Morgan Academy bookkeeper Janet Ellison was sentenced Thursday to two years supervised probation and ordered to pay $55,000 in restitution in connection to misdemeanor conviction in October of misapplication of funds.

Circuit Court Judge Marvin Wiggins also conditionally ordered Ellison to pay $19,000 to Morgan Academy in incurred costs.

“We’re very pleased with what the judge decided and that the jury found her guilty,” said prosecuting attorney Rick Williams. “She has to pay back the restitution and she was found guilty of the misappropriation of these funds, so I think the school was very pleased too.”

Ellison’s attorney Jerry Blevins requested two weeks to object Wiggin’s order of paying $19,000 in Morgan Academy’s costs. Wiggins granted that delay.

“We were disappointed [with the outcome of the sentencing],” Blevins said, whose defense requested Ellison receive six months unsupervised probation. “We fully expected the charge to be dismissed, as it should have been. We respect Judge Wiggins and his decision, although we disagree with it.”

During the sentencing, Blevins argued Ellison shouldn’t be sentenced with the recommended 12 months in Dallas County Jail because she was convicted of misapplication of funds, not stealing.

“We accept the jury’s verdict at this point. We don’t have any option,” Blevins said. “But Mrs. Ellison stands by her plea of not guilty. We understand the jury determined her responsible for overseeing it [the money] and it came up missing. The court held her responsible and the court should sentence her on that finding.”

Blevins also asked the jury take Ellison’s past and character in to account in determining her sentencing.

“Mrs. Ellison, a 52-year-old lady, is a loving mother, a loving wife, and has never been in trouble before in her life,” he said. “She was an upstanding member of the community before the incident arose and she’s an upstanding member of the community now.”

Prosecuting attorney Barrown Lankster said, although he recommended Ellison serve 12 months in the Dallas County Jail, he was not surprised by the final sentencing.

“It’s our position that she should have been sentenced to 12 months in Dallas County Jail,” Lankster said. “I don’t think we were under any illusions that the judge would send her to jail but of course nevertheless, under the circumstances, we thought jail would have been appropriate.”

In October, Ellison was found not guilty of a felony charge of first-degree theft for money found missing and mishandled at Morgan Academy when she served as the school’s bookkeeper.

While the jury found her not guilty of the felony charge, it did find her guilty of the misapplication of funds misdemeanor charge.

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