Former St. Martin school employee admits to embezzlement, will not face jail time

Former St. Martin school employee admits to embezzlement, will not face jail time

JACKSON COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - The former Vice President of St. Martin High's Gridiron Club will not face jail time after admitting stealing from the nonprofit booster club.

Melanie Pankonin told a Jackson County courtroom Wednesday that she did take thousands from the nonprofit, which raises money for the school's football team.

Instead of being sentenced to jail time, Pankonin was allowed to take part in a  pre-trial diversion program and was ordered to pay back a total of $6,075 in restitution along with fines and court costs. The program will allow Pankonin three years to pay that money back to the school.

Pankonin was arrested in early March 2017 after she was accused of stealing between $10,000 and $15,000 in money and equipment from the Gridiron Club. However, authorities found that the amount was actually less than that.

At the time, Pankonin served as vice president of the booster club and worked as a secretary at St. Martin Upper Elementary.

According to assistant district attorney Cherie Wade, Jackson County School District did not want Pankonin to go to jail. The district agreed to the pre-trial diversion program in the hopes of getting the stolen money repaid to the booster club.

The pretrial diversion program is for first-time, non-violent offenders and is operated by the District Attorney's Office. During the rigorous program, participants must complete certain conditions before being discharged from the program, including payment of all fines and restitution.

In Pankonin's case, that would mean she could face a trial on two embezzlement charges, with each count carrying up to a ten-year sentence.

Copyright 2018 WLOX. All rights reserved.