A 52-year-old Maryland woman who had been charged with stealing tuition money from students at Baltimore City Community College pleaded guilty to the charges in Circuit Court. The woman admitted to the theft of more than $7,000 in tuition payments. The woman must pay back her victims in addition to a one-year suspended prison sentence and three-year probation sentence.
The prosecutors said that not only did the woman take money from students, she also could have taken away certifications needed for the students to further their careers. While working as an administrative assistant at the school, she advised students to leave the payee line on their tuition money orders blank. She would then write in her name and keep the money. In order to keep the scheme going, she would register the students for their classes, only to say later that they dropped out of the class.
The students continued going to class, but they didn't receive credit for taking the course. The prosecutor on the case said that the scheme could have deprived many students of important certifications they would need to get new jobs or further their career. However, because the plot was uncovered, the students will be able to continue their career development.
The defendant in this case may have pleaded guilty to the charges because she thought it wasn't worth the risk of a harsher penalty by going to trial. The one-year suspended sentence and three years of probation are certainly better than serving time in prison. Many considerations should be made by those facing criminal charges, including the possibility of pleading guilty. An attorney may be able to provide needed advice on what decision is best for any specific circumstances.
Source: The Baltimore Sun, "Former BCCC employee sentenced for theft", Tricia Bishop, July 10, 2013