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Update on Student Funds

POSTED: 05:36 PM ET, 04/17/2008 by The Editors

A former D.C. school business manager who raided donations to a chess club for emotionally disturbed students has been ordered to pay $30,000 in restitution and spend 25 days behind bars, court records show.

The Post published a story in November detailing dozens of instances in which D.C. public school employees or others have stolen or misused student activity money. That story was part of a Post series last year examining the D.C. Public schools.

Sandy Jones, 41, was sentenced in February after pleading guilty to felony fraud last fall in federal court. U.S. District Judge Richard W. Roberts sentenced Jones to three years in prison, suspending all but 25 days and allowing her to serve those on weekends beginning in September, records show. The judge could have sentenced her to a maximum of 10 years in prison and fined her as much as $90,000.

The money Jones stole was donated to the Moten Center chess club in 2003 to help students attend a national chess tournament in Nashville. Funds poured into the school in 2003 after the Washington Post published a column about the students' struggle to raise funds. More than $72,000 in donations was deposited in the student activity fund, which Jones had access to, records show.

Jones "acknowledges that there is no excuse for her actions," her attorney said in a court filing.
"At the time of the offense, she had moved from her mother's home and was attempting to support herself and her daughter on her own," according to the filing. "Ms. Jones was struggling financially and simply succumbed to temptation."

Mary Manning Petras, Jones' public defender, declined to comment Thursday and Jones could not be reached for comment.

--David S. Fallis and April Witt

By The Editors |  April 17, 2008; 5:36 PM ET D.C. Region
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