Tammy Stoops, once chief probation officer in Madison County Juvenile Court, will not spend time behind bars for stealing on the job, despite a request from her former boss, Judge Christopher Brown, that she go to prison.
On Thursday, Stoops, 48, 11820 Midway Road, South Solon, received a suspended 18-month prison sentence from visiting common pleas Judge James Brogan. Instead, she will spend five years on community control. Brogan also fined Stoops $1,000 and ordered that money sent to juvenile court.
In a lengthy statement to Brogan prior to sentencing, Madison County Juvenile Judge Brown requested prison time for Stoops, saying she betrayed the children placed in her charge and the public’s trust.
“A precedent must be set,” Brown said. “Justice must be swift, certain and severe.”
Stoops pleaded guilty in April to theft in office for taking $1,815 from the juvenile court restitution fund in January 2015, then applying for a grant to cover up the theft.
She paid $4,483 in restitution at the time of the April plea and was ordered to resign from the board of Southeastern Local Schools in Clark County.
Brown replaced Judge Glenn Hamilton on the juvenile court bench in February 2015.
Brown fired Stoops seven months later for “behavior deemed to be deceptive, insubordinate and counterproductive” to court business. Stoops earned $52,335 at the time, plus additional pay as county grant administrator for the Ohio Department of Youth Services.
Brown said Hamilton trusted Stoops and that she took advantage of that trust in the final weeks of Hamilton’s tenure in the courthouse.
Defense attorney John Butz urged Brogan to consider leniency based on letters from local attorneys and others who supported Stoops.
“You will see the real Tammy Stoops in letters submitted,” Butz said.
Butz cited Stoops’ 25 years of service in the local juvenile court and her time on the school board as evidence of her dedication to area youth.
“She has the best interests of children in mind,” Butz said.
He noted Stoops will never be able to hold another position of trust.
Stoops apologized and accepted full responsibility for betraying the trust of her employers.
“Judge Hamilton was my mentor and role model,” she said tearfully.
She explained that she was separated from her husband and receiving no child support for two sons when she took the money.
“I felt it was my job to take care of my kids,” she said. “I intended to pay the money back. It was a mistake I will pay for the rest of my life.”
Jane Beathard is a contributing writer for The Madison Press.