TROY — Former Piqua City Schools Food Service Director Terri Meyer, 52, was sentenced to 12 months of prison for the theft of $41,267 from vending machine funds.
Meyer was represented in the Miami County Pleas Court on Monday by attorney Jack Hemm and prosecuted by the state, represented by assistant prosecuting attorney Janna Parker, with Judge Christopher Gee presiding.
Meyer spoke before the court.
“I make no excuses,” Meyer said. “I just needed to keep our head above water … I broke to a certain extent … in time, I hope that my family and friends have the respect for me again that was had before this all happened.”
Hemm said Meyer was “under a lot of financial pressure” and claimed Meyer was a good person who “had a moment.”
“Even good people have their moments,” Hemm said. “I’ve known her for years and years … I just want you to know the type of person you are dealing with … we just ask to take all of these matters into consideration.”
Hemm said things turned for the worse for Meyer in 1992, having a lot of financial pressures dealing with hardship within her family, with thoughts of taking on more jobs to suffice.
She has paid the school back from her retirement fund and has no prior criminal record.
“This was repeated behavior over time,” Parker said. “This is a crime against the children of Piqua City Schools and taxpayers … I think a sentence to community control would virtually have no impact … it seems to me that the idea to go out there to get two or three jobs years ago would have been the solution then (for financial hardship).”
PCS Treasurer Jeremie Hittle read a statement on behalf of the board of education, proclaiming “a breach of trust (was) placed with Mrs. Meyer that will never be forgotten.” The letter also read Meyer threatened her staff’s jobs if word got out of her misconduct and falsified records to cover up evidence.
“It is respectable that Mrs. Meyer paid the district restitution for the money that was stolen from the children of Piqua,” the statement read, “however, it does not fully satisfy the need for justice in this matter … trust is essential in any organization. The Piqua City Schools Board of Education and all of its staff need to maintain trust of the public.
“If Mrs. Meyer is required time in prison (state or local), it will send a strong message to our community that it is not appropriate to steal, especially from children.”
Meyer also said she apologized to her district and administrators from the very beginning, but Hittle said he do not receive an apology.
“I personally have not received an apology, of which (investigation) took multiple hours of my time,” Hittle said.
He claimed Meyer was even going on vacations to the Dominican Republic.
“It’s not exactly just ‘keeping her head above water,’” he said.
“I don’t know where he is getting his information from,” Hemm said in response to Hittle’s statement on Meyer’s vacations. “I assure you she wasn’t taking Dominican Republic vacations … to sit here and say she is getting it easy … seems ludicrous … is it not enough that she paid back the cash from her retirement?”
Gee said the court considered the seriousness of the factors.
“(Meyer caused) serious economic harm to victims in a position of trust,” he said. “The court finds a prison term is consistent with sentencing statute.”
According to a press release from PCS, red flags rose when a reconciliation of the vending machine funds did not correctly match. The funds were later tracked to Meyer, and resulted in the district immediately placing Meyer on administrative leave and she was prohibited from any further contact with district accounts.
Meyer resigned from her position on March 19. She began working with the district in November 1998 as a substitute food service employee and was hired full-time in October 2001. In August 2005, she became the food secretary and was promoted to food service director in December 2007.
Reach Amy Barger at (937) 451-3340 or on Twitter @TheDailyCall.