Deborah Whitney, 43, is a longtime employee at Arthur's Department Store in Morrisville. A bookkeeper there since the early 1990s, she's highly regarded by her co-workers and her boss even though federal prosecutors say she admitted to embezzling $600,000 from the store.
"It's definitely a shame. It really is, that someone's life can be put in such turmoil," said Arthur Breault, the owner of Arthur's Department Store.
Asked why Whitney is still employed at the store, Breault replied, "I need a dedicated employee and she's good. She's good at her job."
Breault declined to comment on whether Whitney committed the crime.
Under a plea deal those charges were dropped but Whitney did plead guilty to four other felony charges. Two involved wire fraud and one for mail fraud.
Whitney will be sentenced in September and will likely be sent to jail. But in the meantime, she's hoping to be appointed to the Eden school board. A long-term board member recently resigned and the board must now choose one of four candidates as a replacement.
If selected, Whitney would likely be behind bars during her term.
"I don't know if she'd serve real well from prison," said Aimee Carbee, a parent. "Not sure what her rights would be. I'm sure she couldn't attend the school board meetings from prison."
Asked if she would be worried about Whitney serving on the school board, parent Denise Bushnell replied, "Absolutely not. What she's done or hasn't done, it has nothing to do with a kid's education. She wants what's best for the kids."
According to the Secretary of State's office, Vermont law doesn't prohibit convicted felons like Whitney from serving on the school board even while incarcerated.
The appointment will be made Thursday night.
The Vermont Legislature did pass a law last year to prevent some elected officials like town listers from holding public office if convicted of embezzlement, but that law does not apply to school board members because they do not directly handle money.
Deborah Whitney declined to comment on her effort to get on the school board.
The decision on the appointment is up to the two other members of the Eden board. Whoever wins the appointment would only serve until the term ends next March.
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Friday, May 24 2013 7:35 PM EDT2013-05-24 23:35:15 GMT
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