Former Proctor High School Bookkeeper Sentenced for Theft

The Office of the United States Attorney for the District of Vermont stated that Deborah Clough, former bookkeeper for Proctor High School, was sentenced yesterday in United States District Court by Chief Judge Christina Reiss to 14 months in prison followed by two years of supervised release on charges of theft from an organization receiving federal funding and filing false tax returns.
According to the information to which Clough pled, from in or about August 2007 until in or about August 2009, Clough repeatedly prepared unauthorized checks to herself from the Proctor High School Student Activities Account and fabricated supporting documents to justify the issuance of the checks. Clough obtained a total of approximately $106,000.00 from her fraud against the school. Because she failed to declare the stolen funds as income, she failed to pay over $19,000.00 in taxes during the years of the fraud.

During the sentencing hearing, Proctor Junior-Senior High School principal June Sargent described the account from which Clough stole funds as including money raised by students and their parents for class activities and special events, as well as funds given to the school in memory of former alumni, teachers and community members. Sargent spoke about the impact of Clough’s deceit on the entire school community. Town of Proctor School District Business Manager Cheryl Scarzello reminded the Court that Clough had stolen the money systematically from people she saw every day both at work and in the community.

In imposing sentence, the Court noted the length and complexity of Clough’s scheme, Clough’s role as a trusted employee of the school, Clough’s attempts to conceal her conduct, and the impact on the school community. In addition to the term of imprisonment, the Court ordered Clough to repay $111,495.43 in restitution to the school through its insurers, as well as $19,440.00 to the Internal Revenue Service.

The United States Attorneys Office credits the Federal Bureau of Investigation in Rutland, Vermont, and the Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigations Division, in Springfield, Massachusetts, for their detailed work on this investigation. The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Geni Cowles, and Clough was represented by Assistant Federal Public Defender Alison Arms.

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