ELYRIA — Former Oberlin school board member Paula Jones broke down Monday when Lorain County Common Pleas Judge Mark Betleski told her she would have to get a job as part of her three years of probation for stealing from the Eastwood Parent Teacher Organization.
Jones, 48, said she’s been a homemaker for the past 20 years and didn’t know how she could get a job with
felonies on her record. She pleaded guilty in May to six counts of theft.
Betleski told her that the point of the job was so she could repay the $10,000 in restitution he ordered her to
pay as part of her probation. The payments, not the job, were the focus of that part of the sentence, the judge said.
Jones said her only sources of income are alimony and child support.
Earlier in the hearing, Jones apologized for her crimes.
“I tried to serve the children of Oberlin City Schools to the best of my ability, and I am sorry for how this turned out,” she said.
Jones resigned her school board seat in October 2009 after $1,385 raised by Eastwood Elementary students from a walkathon came up missing.
Jones, who was the PTO’s treasurer, had control of the money.
Bank records dating back to 2004 pulled by investigators showed that she had written checks out to “cash” and then deposited them into her own accounts. She contended that those payments were to reimburse
herself for out-of-pocket expenses.
Prosecutors argued that Jones stole more than $22,000 from the PTO, although she had disputed that amount.
Assistant County Prosecutor Chris Pierre said Jones betrayed the trust the community placed in her.
“She basically stole from the children she was tasked to give to, and she used her position in public service to serve herself,” Pierre said before the sentence was handed down.
Since she resigned from the school board, Jones has gone through a contentious divorce that at one point led her now ex-husband to get a restraining order against her after she told him she was cheating on him
and threatened to kill herself. The restraining order later was dropped.
Contact Brad Dicken at 329-7147 or email@example.com.