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Prosecutors shocked at sentencing in school fraud case



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SALT LAKE CITY -- A former Davis School District employee accused of stealing nearly $4.3 million was sentenced to 36 months probation Monday, much to the shock of prosecutors.

Susan Ross, 65, pleaded guilty in October to money laundering in a textbook-embezzling scheme that occurred over a 20-year period.

Judge Waddoups said he steered away from the U.S. Attorney's proposed 27-month prison sentence because of Ross' outstanding reputation and service as an educator.

He also stated Ross cares for a disabled adult son and her ailing husband, who also pleaded guilty to his involvement in the scheme. He too was given probation.

"As we argued in court, this was a very serious crime," said Assistant U.S. Attorney Loren Washburn. "The defendant, Mrs. Ross, obtained a million and a half dollars in profit in five years from selling copyright-violation books to the school district, and apparently the court concluded that probation was an appropriate sentence from his vantage point, but we were surprised about that."

All 47 counts against Ross were dismissed in October as part of her plea deal to the money laundering charge.

Of the 36 months of probation, six will be spent in home confinement, and the judge wants the service hours to be specifically directed to education. Ross also received 3,000 hours of community service, a $10,000 fine and $350,000 in restitution to the Davis School District.

Judge Waddoups said while prosecutors alleged Ross embezzled millions, they only tied her to the $350,000, which determined the restitution amount.

E-mail: jstagg@ksl.com

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Jennifer Stagg

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