STRATTANVILLE - A woman accused of stealing more than $70,000 from the Strattanville Volunteer Fire Department was sentenced Oct. 6 in Clarion County Court to serve seven years on probation.
Nichole Lynn Rawson, 22, Strattanville, entered guilty pleas to felony counts of forgery and theft by unlawful taking. She was sentenced by Clarion County Judge of Common Pleas Sara Seidle-Patton.
The judge said it was "heartbreaking" for the members of the fire department "to put in their time only to have the money stolen."
Seidle-Patton said she wanted to see the fire department repaid, and since Rawson is currently employed, placing her on probation was the best way for her to continue to make payments.
Blair Hindman, Rawson's attorney, said his client will be embarrassed for the rest of her life. Hindman said she had already served several days in jail, and he said the best opportunity for her to make restitution would be through her continued employment.
Clarion County Assistant District Attorney Erich Spessard asked Seidle-Patton to incarcerate Rawson for 30 days.
Rawson will pay restitution of $39,963, the cost of prosecution and a supervision fee. She was ordered to undergo a medical health evaluation and must remain employed.
A criminal complaint says that overall, Rawson took about $70,000 in funds from the fire department and an additional $900 in cash from the secured safety box at the fire hall.
The $70,000 was taken by "kiting" checks, a form of check fraud, the complaint said.
Rawson had initially been charged with seven counts of forgery, one charge of theft by deception, seven counts of identity theft and one count of the use of an access device by an unauthorized person. All the charges were felonies.