Tammy Lee Walker

Tammy Lee Walker

Stealing $4,545 from Conneaut Area Senior High concession stand proceeds last year has earned a Conneaut Lake area woman county jail time followed by house arrest and probation.

"It's necessary for the community to know this kind of conduct will not be tolerated," Judge John Spataro said before sentencing Tammy Lee Walker on Thursday in Crawford County Court of Common Pleas.

Walker, 43, of 13946 Ryan Drive, was a volunteer with CASH All Sports Boosters club.

She pleaded guilty in February in county court to a first-degree misdemeanor count of theft by unlawful taking for stealing $4,545 from the cash drawer of the Conneaut Area Senior High concession stand during three football games.

According to the criminal complaint filed Officer Kurt Sitler, Conneaut School District's school resource officer, Walker took cash belonging to the CASH All Sports Boosters club on Aug. 31, Sept. 22 and Oct. 5, 2018.

On Aug. 31, the CASH football team played at home against Meadville Area Senior High. On Oct. 5, CASH played at home against Slippery Rock Area High School. Sept. 22, a Saturday, was the day after CASH played General McLane High School.

When confronted about the thefts, Walker admitted to her involvement but said it was "significantly less," Ed Hatheway, Walker's attorney, told Spataro.

"She used the money to buy basketball shoes at the Millcreek Mall for her kids," Hatheway said of why Walker took money.

Walker declined to address the court when asked by Spataro if she had anything to say.

With Walker having no prior criminal record, sentencing guidelines only called for probation to one month in jail, Craig Howe, a Crawford County assistant district attorney, told Spataro.

Howe asked for jail time because Walker had been "caught on camera taking money from the till and putting it into her pocket. She admitted to taking money but said it was a lesser amount."

Howe said authorities used a hidden camera within the booth to find a thief. Booster officials became suspicious of theft after less cash was received from sales than was anticipated during the Aug. 31, 2018, game, Howe said.

Walker initially was charged with third-degree felony counts of theft by unlawful taking and receiving stolen property. Each of those counts had a maximum of seven years in prison and a $15,000 fine.

In a plea agreement with the Crawford County District Attorney's Office, Walker pleaded guilty to a first-degree count of theft in February and agreed make restitution, Howe told the judge.

Howe said Walker had put $4,545 for restitution in escrow with the Crawford County Clerk of Courts Office as part of her plea agreement.

Spataro sentenced Walker to a 12-month intermediate punishment sentence with the first two weeks spent in the Crawford County jail followed by two months of house arrest/electronic monitoring and the remaining 9 1/2 months as probation.

Walker also was ordered by Spataro to pay $4,545 restitution to CASH All Sports Boosters club plus a $250 fine and court costs.

Per a request from CASH All Sports Boosters club, Walker was ordered by Spataro not to participate in any CASH All Sports Boosters club activities. Spataro said it didn't preclude her from attending CASH sports events.

Though Walker declined to address the court, Spataro referenced a letter Walker had submitted to the court.

"It was a huge mistake," Spataro quoted from Walker's letter. "I'm very, very sorry. It was a terrible decision that has affected my own life and the lives of others."

Several members of CASH All Sports Boosters were in attendance for the sentencing, but they didn't address the court, though Spataro did read from a victim impact statement the organization had submitted.

The boosters wrote the theft has had a ripple effect on the club with a drop in volunteerism, Spataro said.

"The damage done is irreparable," Spataro quoted from the boosters' letter. "Our trust has been badly broken."

"People feel really let down," Spataro said to Walker before pronouncing sentence on her. "The money was to help kids and it goes to you."

Keith Gushard can be reached at 724-6370 or by email at kgushard@meadvilletribune.com.

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