Former Clay Central-Everly Superintendent Monte Montgomery pleaded guilty to a class C felony charge of first degree theft Monday in the Clay County Courthouse and began a three-year probation.
District 3A Judge Patrick M. Carr gave Montgomery a suspended sentence of up to 10 years in prison, a $1,000 fine and $350 surcharge. Montgomery will not be required to serve prison time or pay that fine and surcharge as long as he complies with the terms of the sentence, which includes paying court fees and restitution to the district.
"You will obey all laws," Carr told Montgomery. "You will secure and maintain employment. You are restricted to residence in Iowa. You must make contact with your supervising agent and pay a probation supervision fee."
Montgomery's restitution to the CC-E school district is $15,852.94, which is the difference between the $26,046.35 he has already paid the district and the $41,844.36 in misappropriated funds an Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation report linked to the district credit card issued in his name. That report found nearly $103,000 in improper or unsupported school budget disbursements, including nearly $48,000 in misappropriations between July 1, 2005 and Nov. 30, 2010.
"Is it true that in the course of your employment with the Clay Central-Everly school district, you were lawfully in possession of a credit card in your name? You were authorized to make purchases for the school, correct? You were not to make purchases for yourself, correct? There were times you made purchases the district did not authorize, correct?" Carr asked.
Montgomery answered, "Yes," to each question.
"This is a non-standard way of committing theft," Carr continued, noting Montgomery "didn't take property from the school and take it home."
He called Montgomery's crime "theft by misappropriation."
Carr's sentence followed the recommendations of a pre-sentence investigation.
"The question is, any time you have an ongoing crime continuing over five years and resulting in $41,864 in theft, should that person be on probation?" Clay County Attorney Mike Houchins asked. "He has paid $26,046.35 back in restitution. He does have the support of his family, education and no criminal history. His opportunity to work and pay back restitution is in the best interest of the state.
"With regard to a fine, due to Mr. Montgomery's current financial situation, his money would be better spent on restitution," Houchins continued.
He recommended three years of probation based on Montgomery's level of cooperation and the "serious consequences" he has faced.
"On Sept. 12, Mr. Montgomery waived his right to a hearing with the Iowa Board of Educational Examiners to revoke his license," Houchins said. "He'll never teach again."
When given the right of elocution, Montgomery declined to speak.
"I'm urging you to invest yourself in the rules of your probation," Carr said. "I wish you and everyone else in this sorry situation the best of luck, including the patrons of the school district."