DECATUR — Karen S. Buxton, the former teller who stole $66,584.50 from customer accounts at a Decatur credit union, was sentenced to six months in jail Monday and ordered to pay back every cent.
Macon County Circuit Court Judge Thomas Griffith also sentenced Buxton, 49, to 24 months' probation and stayed the start of the jail sentence until Oct. 3.
Buxton pleaded guilty on Aug. 22 to two counts of looting the money from customer accounts at ADM Credit Union, where she worked.
Her defense attorney, Chris Amero, had appealed for a sentence without jail time and said Buxton had even moved to a cheaper rental home to free up more money to make restitution.
“I am truly sorry for what happened,” Buxton told Griffith.
The judge told her she had pleaded guilty to a serious crime involving a sophisticated method of looting customer accounts that came to light in October 2017 and had gone on for months.
“Miss Buxton is 49, old enough to know better,” Griffith said. “The court considers this a very serious offense.”
Earlier the judge wondered out loud how the thefts could have gone on for months with two clients losing tens of thousands of dollars out of their accounts without noticing.
“I watch every nickel,” Griffith said.
He heard testimony from ADM Credit Union President Ann Wildman, who asked for a jail sentence to reflect the seriousness of the offense. Griffith agreed that jail time had to be part of the punishment because of the amount taken and the careful planning and time used to steal it.
Speaking afterward, Amero said the jail sentence was unfair and unjust. He contrasted Buxton with the case of Natalie E. Stout, 37, who was sentenced to 24 months' probation in June for stealing more than $200,000 from her former employers, JD Properties.
“So Miss Buxton steals $66,000 and yet she has to serve six months in jail,” said Amero. “I don’t know know how this makes any sense. There needs to be some consistency here.”
Buxton had told the court she did have a job but said she would lose it if she were jailed. She had planned to make restitution at the rate of $150 a month. The full amount she owes is $66,584.50, which means that, if she can keep up the payments, it will take her 37 years to make complete restitution.
In addition to the jail sentence and probation, Buxton was ordered to pay $250 to have her DNA indexed in a Illinois State Police database. She will also have to pay a $25 a month probation services fee.
2018 mug shots from the Herald & Review.
Contact Tony Reid at (217) 421-7977. Follow him on Twitter: @TonyJReid