BELMONT, N.C. -- A former Belmont Central Elementary School receptionist has been banned from school property after stealing $700 in donations from the school's Bible club.
Melissa Ann "Lisa" Austin will serve 12 months of supervised probation after entering an Alford Plea in early-November for misdemeanor larceny.
An Alford Plea is when a criminal defendant maintains his/her innocence while admitting there is sufficient evidence for a conviction so s/he agrees to be treated as guilty.
The Gaston County School System terminated Austin in June after the Belmont Police Department initially arrested her for felony embezzlement.
According to her termination letter, a parent gave Austin $959 in Bible club donations for safekeeping after she couldn't find the club adviser.
The next day, Austin gave the money to the club adviser who counted just $659 in donations.
The adviser gave the money back to Austin who then placed it in her locked filing cabinet.
The following day, Austin handed over the money to the school finance secretary who found only $259 remaining.
According to the school system, when questioned, Austin said she "...did not find it odd that $700 was unaccounted for..."
NBC Charlotte spoke to several parents who all refused to go on-camera, but they did describe Austin as a sweet woman who fell on hard times and made a bad decision.
Austin must also back the $700 she stole, and if she did, her supervised probation will change to unsupervised.
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