A Middletown woman will spend Christmas in jail after pleading guilty to taking money from a youth sports group.
Danielle Lucas, 38, of Inland Drive, was indicted in April by a Butler County grand jury on two counts of felony theft for allegedly misappropriating money from the Middletown Youth Football and Cheer League.
In September, Lucas accepted a plea deal and pleaded guilty to misdemeanor theft and the second theft charge was dismissed. As a requirement of the plea deal, Lucas made restitution to the organization in the amount of $44,000.
The theft occurred while Lucas was treasurer of the organization from June 1, 2014 to Nov. 1, 2017, according to court documents and prosecutors.
Butler County Common Pleas Judge Michael Oster sentenced Lucas on Monday to three years probation and also ordered her to spend time in the Butler County Jail from Dec. 22 through Jan. 7.
Assistant Butler County Prosecutor Gloria Sigman said Lucas’ jail sentence was arranged to coincide with time she will be off for the holiday break as a school bus driver.
Middletown police began an investigation in October 2017 when the organization’s new president, Quincy Hightower, reported the theft to detectives.
Middletown Police Maj. Scott Reeve said Lucas was the only person with access to the organization’s account, a practice that has since been stopped.
“We always tell these organizations that two or even three signatures should be needed to access accounts and money,” Reeve said.