Friday, December 08, 2023

Former school clerk pleads no contest

| December 13, 2005 11:00 PM

The former clerk for the Sylvanite School District pleaded no contest Monday to felony charges related to the use of the school's credit card for personal purchases.

In an agreement with the county attorney's office, Rebecca Schley Smith, 37, entered the no contest plea to a charge of deceptive practices in a common scheme. The felony charge carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $50,000 fine.

Under the terms of the plea agreement, the county attorney's office is recommending a three-year deferred sentence with a provision that Smith can petition for release from probation after two years if she meets terms including the payment of $2,891.36 in restitution. A misdemeanor theft charge will be dismissed, although the agreement incorporates restitution related to the misdemeanor charge.

According to court documents, an investigation started last April after county superintendent of schools Ron Higgins contacted a detective with the Lincoln County Sheriff's Office regarding charges on the Sylvanite school's credit card. A school board member had reviewed the credit card statements and thought some of the charges were unrelated to school business.

The detective reviewed the statements and contacted Smith. According to an affidavit filed in district court, Smith told the detective she had used the card to buy two sets of tires and planned to pay the money back when she got paid. She told the detective she had been using the card for personal purposes and had been making payments with her own money almost every month, the affidavit contends.

Smith provided the detective with a bag of receipts for charges she had made with the credit card. She told him she thought she owed the school $721.

A school board member who is also a certified public accountant reviewed the statements and came up with a figure of $2,100.90 owed by Smith to the school, however. Charges pointed out by the school board member included a Pamida statement for $136.45, which Smith told the detective was for clothing, $114.35 for prescription drugs and $108.47 for other personal items at Kootenai Drug/True Value, and $431.19 at Wal-Mart for personal items.

Smith is tentatively scheduled to be sentenced on Jan. 23.