Judge suspends prison sentence for former bookkeeper

Published 5:19 pm Tuesday, April 7, 2015

A Chilton County judge on Tuesday suspended the remainder of a sentence for a former LeCroy Career Technical Center employee who was serving seven months in jail on charges involving theft.

Temika Varner Winters, 38, of Clanton, appeared in court Tuesday morning in front of Chilton County Circuit Judge Ben A. Fuller for a motion filed by herself requesting early release from the Chilton County Jail.

Winters has already served six months in jail.

Winters sent a letter to Fuller explaining that her grandfather is in bad health and she is the only caregiver for him.

The letter also stated that since she was incarcerated on Nov. 12, 2014, she has been made a trustee and has had no disciplinary actions against her.

Winters also said that as of March 17, her grandfather had one of his legs amputated and would require “round the clock care.”

Fuller told Winters, who stood before him in a bright orange jail jumpsuit, that the remainder of her prison sentence would be suspended and she would be placed on three years of probation.

Winters, the former bookkeeper at the LeCroy Career Technical Center, entered a guilty plea in July 2014 to one count of theft of property first degree and one count of ethics violations.

Prosecutors agreed to dismiss 16 counts of possession of a forged instrument second degree in exchange for a guilty plea to two of the charges involving theft.

Winters told Fuller in July 2014 that she used her position as bookkeeper for personal gain.

She was arrested Nov. 26, 2013, after the 19th Judicial Circuit District Attorney’s Office conducted an investigation of suspected theft at the request of the Clanton Police Department due to a conflict of interest.

At the time of her arrest, prosecutors said Winters’ husband was an officer with the Clanton Police Department so the district attorney’s office brought in a special investigator to look into the case.

The investigation started after an employee at LeCroy noticed some unusual accounting practices.

Winters stole more than $50,000 from the school over an 18-month period.

At the time of her arrest, prosecutors said in this particular case, forged instruments referred to checks.

Winters was sentenced by Fuller on Nov. 12, 2014, to 32 months in prison on each count to run concurrently. Her sentence was suspended in accordance with the provision of the Split Sentence Act, and her minimum period of confinement in prison was seven months on each count, to run concurrently.

She was also fined $10,000 for each count, and was required to pay the costs associated with her case.

In addition to serving seven months in prison, Winters must pay restitution to the Chilton County Board of Education in the amount of $60,675. Fuller told Winters on Tuesday that she will be required to submit a monthly payment as part of her restitution beginning May 1 and if she misses a payment, the judge can revoke her probation.