Former Arkansas City Senior Citizens Center director Edward Gregore Greene was ordered Wednesday morning to serve 60 days in the Cowley County Jail on a work-release basis.
Greene, 47, was sentenced in Cowley County District Court for allegedly taking or misusing $138,000 from the City of Arkansas City while he was director of the senior citizens center.
He was charged with three counts — one each of theft, making false information and misuse of public funds.
And through a plea bargain agreement made Jan. 10, he agreed to pay restitution in the amount of $53,000 to the city and senior center groups.
However, District Judge Jim Pringle ordered the jail term, in addition to five years of probation, during sentencing at the district court in Arkansas City.
He also ordered that the entire $53,000 restitution should go to the city.
Appearing before Pringle with his attorney, David Maslen, Greene asked the court for mercy prior to his sentencing.
"The events that have taken place are not me," Greene said. "I'm very, very sorry. It has been a very difficult time for me and my family.
"I've gotten support from many of my seniors, my church and my family. My prayer for this is for mercy and restitution.
City Attorney Tamara Niles also appeared before Pringle, arguing the city's stance as a victim in the case.
The city is the owner of the senior center, said Taggart Wall, administrative assistant to the city manager.
The center is part of the city's Parks and Facilities Division, according to City Manager Nick Hernandez.
"The city does feel incarceration is warranted here," Niles told the judge.
"If people think they can spend this kind of money and (avoid punishment), that's not right."
Before sentencing, Pringle read portions of two letters of support for Greene, written by one of his former employees and by his church pastor.
Maslen presented the letters to the judge on behalf of his client.
Pringle told Greene he had read that he was a friendly, kind man who had treated the senior citizens who used the center in a caring manner.
"On the other hand, you just stole the money," Pringle said. "And it's not only a punishment to you to serve jail time, but a deterrent to others."
Pringle added, however, that it would not be practical to have Greene lose his job because that would make it harder for him to make restitution.
For that reason, Greene is to serve the 60 days in jail under a work-release arrangement, Pringle said.
Greene now works for Rubbermaid in Winfield, he told the judge.
If Greene violates his probation, he will serve 26 months in prison, Pringle said.
Pringle actually sentenced Greene to 29 months on the three charges — 13 months on the primary offense of theft, nine months on the charge of making false information and seven months on the charge of misusing public funds.
The terms are to run consecutively, Pringle said.
But Maslen noted that a state statute would prevent Greene from having to serve more than 26 months — twice the amount of time on the primary offense.
Pringle said he was aware of the statute, but that the sentence "on paper" would be 29 months — the total amount of time ordered for the three offenses, served consecutively.
Niles said after the sentencing that although the plea agreement between the Cowley County attorney and the defense did not mention jail time, the city requested it because of the egregious nature of Greene's crimes.
She added that she knows Greene personally and professionally, and that she likes him very much.
"I don't know anyone who doesn't like him," she said.
"But as city attorney, it's my duty to protect the citizens of Ark City. I represent the city and it was city money he took."
She said the $138,000 figure she quoted during her presentation to Pringle during sentencing represented the amount shown in police records that was misused or missing from what should have been in city accounts.
Attorneys on both sides of the case indicated that pinpointing the exact amount that allegedly had been stolen or was missing was difficult.
That's because much of the money represented cash donations that were not recorded and that were funneled into bank accounts, apparently for years.
But the current city administration was unaware of the accounts.
One of those accounts was under the name "Ark City Senior Friends." In the January plea agreement, $25,000 was to be paid back to that group.
But Pringle ordered that it should be paid to the city after Niles argued that that money should have been reported to the city for the senior center's budgeting purposes.
The account had been opened years ago, but the group that started it apparently had become inactive.
And the current city administration was unaware of its existence, Niles said.
Pringle also ordered that another $25,000 that was to be paid back to the senior center should be paid to the city instead.
The city owns the center, city officials have said.
About $214,000 a year is budgeted by the city each year for the salary of the director and kitchen staff, as well as building upkeep, officials have said.
Greene was arrested Feb. 26, 2013, after he turned himself in to authorities.
He originally was charged with three felony counts of theft, two felony counts of making false information and a felony count of misuse of public funds.
The warrant for Greene's arrest was the product of a months-long investigation by the Arkansas City Police Department, the City of Arkansas City and the county attorney's office into crimes perpetrated by Greene while he was the director of senior services.
Several monetary discrepancies were discovered in the senior center's financial records between 2007 and 2012, leading to the issuance of the warrant. Further investigation turned up evidence of embezzlement.
Former Police Chief Sean Wallace said the discrepancies in the senior center's financial records were discovered during a comprehensive review of all city operations by the city's new administration and management staff.
Greene already had resigned in September 2012 as director of the Senior Citizens Center.
The position was advertised by the city and his replacement, Kristin Sparks, was hired in October 2012.
The position of full-time director of senior services is responsible for a wide variety of duties, including overseeing the operations of the Senior Citizens Center and Friendship Meals Program.
Greene began employment with the city March 27, 2002, and his resignation was effective Sept. 4, 2012. He was making $18.28 per hour at the time of his resignation.