Posted: Oct 16, 2012 12:40 PM by Erin Schattauer
Updated: Oct 17, 2012 10:06 AM
BOZEMAN - The former treasurer of a Belgrade baseball league who admitted to embezzling more than $92,000 from the organization is headed to jail.
Amy Jo Erickson, 39, was sentenced today to serve 180 days in the Gallatin County Detention Center and 10 years with the Department of Corrections with five years suspended. She has given the organization a check for $25,000, and must repay the other $67,085.48 in restitution. The plea agreement recommended Erickson spend 30 days in jail, but Judge Holly Brown sentenced her to a longer term. Erickson pleaded guilty earlier to theft by embezzlement, a felony.
With a handful of people, including parents and a few children, in attendance, Erickson apologized for her actions, saying she doesn't know why she stole thousands of dollars from Belgrade Babe Ruth/Cal Ripken Baseball.
"What I did was no accident, it was simply wrong," Erickson said. "The truth is I did this and I knew it was wrong."
Erickson said her business was suffering in the recession and that she was exhausted and stressed.
"To a huge extent, it was a huge relief to be caught," she said.
"Many people have suffered because of what I've done," she said. "I love the community and the people that I hurt."
These kinds of cases are far too common, Brown noted before handing down Erickson's sentence.
"It's a very pervasive and invasive crime and it goes to a fundamental human belief in trust," Brown said.
Erickson has torn the fabric of trust in the community of Belgrade, Bozeman and the league, the parents and the children have all been impacted, Brown said. Now that fabric cannot be restored, only patched, Brown said.
"It's a lesson these children didn't have to learn," Brown said.
Brown also noted that this isn't the first time Erickson has been in trouble for these sorts of crimes. She has a prior criminal record for writing bad checks and theft.
Following the hearing, Erickson was handcuffed and led out of the courtroom.
According to court documents, Erickson embezzled a total of $92,085.48 from the organization over the last few years by writing checks to a company she and her husband owned, Erickson Plumbing. Checks were also reportedly written directly to Erickson herself and for "cash."
The matter came to the league's attention in November 2010 after questions were raised about outstanding bills for uniforms and supplies.
Police continued to look into the matter and attempted to contact Erickson for an interview, but telephone calls to her went unreturned, according to court documents.
In January 2011 Erickson agreed to speak to police, saying she was not "avoiding it anymore," and reportedly admitted to taking league funds for about four years. She said she wrote checks to her husband's plumbing company because she "needed help financially," court documents state.
She said she would give blank checks to league board members to sign, saying they would be used to pay league bills then she would take the checks and make them payable to Erickson Plumbing for various dollar amounts, court documents state.
After reviewing records, a detective found checks dating back to 2007 written to Amy Erickson and "cash."