Former education director pleads guilty
LaGRANGE — One of two women accused of stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars from the United Way of West Georgia pleaded guilty to the charges against her on Monday in a Troup County Superior Courtroom.
Edmondson was charged with four counts of theft by deception, seven counts of identity fraud, one count of theft by conversion, one count of first degree forgery and one count of financial transaction card fraud.
She was sentenced to 40 years to serve six years behind bars with special conditions of paying court costs and more than $280,000 in restitution, according to the Troup County District Attorney’s Office. Edmondson must also testify truthfully against her co-defendant Ann Gray Spell, of Talladega, Ala.
The two women were arrested Feb. 26 at their respective homes, stated the LaGrange Police Department in a LaGrange Daily News article on Feb. 28.
Edmondson and Spell are accused of defrauding the United Way of West Georgia and the Troup County Board of Education through the Troup BELL organization by a variety of undisclosed methods for more than $200,000.
Edmondson claimed she used some of the stolen funds to pay her special needs daughter’s bills, said the District Attorney’s Office. She also admitted to spending the money on herself to maintain “an elevated life style,” the D.A.’s office added.
Police said they were notified of the potential theft on Nov. 18, 2014, by United Way executive director Patty Youngblood.
Youngblood later told the LaGrange Daily News Edmondson was terminated from Troup BELL that same month.
The United Way serves as a fiscal agent for Troup BELL. At that time, Edmondson was the head of the program.
The United Way had started an internal investigation and determined that a large scale fraud had taken place within Troup BELL since 2009, according to police. Investigators said the organization also determined the Troup County Board of Education, the initial fiscal agent for Troup BELL, was a victim in this case as well.
According to Youngblood, Spell was not an employee of Troup BELL or the United Way. LaGrange police said she was a friend and previous co-worker of Edmondson.
Spell was also charged with four counts of theft by deception, seven counts of identity fraud, one count of theft by conversion, and one count of first degree forgery.
The District Attorney’s office stated the do not know how Spell spent the money.
There is no word yet if she will also be offered a plea deal or if she will stand trial.