Tazewell County school employee sentenced for embezzling

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( Press Release )  WILLIE KATHY HICKS, age 56, of 301 Paramount Drive, North Tazewell, Virginia, was sentenced on December 16, 2015 in the Tazewell County Circuit Court to five (5) counts of embezzlement by a public officer.
 
            HICKS was sentenced by the Honorable Jack S. Hurley and received a total sentence of 35 years. Judge Hurley suspended 30 years and ordered that HICKS serve a total of 5 years in prison.  In addition, HICKS was order to pay restitution to Tazewell County Public Schools in the amount of $359,867.36.
 
            At the sentencing hearing, evidence presented indicated that HICKS had been employed with the Tazewell County Public Schools System for approximately 10 years prior to her being charged. In the time period between 2007 and 2014, HICKS embezzled funds provided to her in her official capacity from a variety of sources, including checks from school system retirees for insurance payments, funds for cheerleading, bake sales, and other school activities.  The theft came to light when bank accounts for Tazewell Middle School were discovered to have been depleted.  The subsequent investigation by the Virginia State Police revealed that HICKS had systematically diverted checks, cash and money orders into her personal checking account. During the sentencing, HICKS admitted her guilt and indicated she embezzled these funds due to personal tragedies in her family. 
           
            “This prosecution was a joint effort by our office, Virginia State Police and Tazewell County Public Schools.  HICKS systematically stole from retirees, school children and the taxpayers of Tazewell County and a lengthy prison sentence was appropriate. This result is a direct reflection of the hard work that went into this investigation by all agencies involved,” said Melanie Menefee, Chief Deputy Commonwealth’s Attorney.
 
            The case was investigated by the Virginia State Police.  This case was prosecuted by Commonwealth’s Attorney Dennis Lee and Chief Deputy Commonwealth’s Attorney Melanie Menefee.

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