ONTONAGON - A former Ontonagon Amateur Hockey Association treasurer who embezzled more than $15,000 from the organization was sentenced to two months in jail in Ontonagon County Circuit Court Wednesday.
Anne Pollard, 43, must also pay $15,500 in restitution to the hockey association. The money will come from earnings she had saved for retirement. The exact amount of what she had taken is still unknown.
Pollard had pleaded no contest to attempted embezzlement, a two-and-a-half-year felony.
Garrett Neese/Daily Mining Gazette
Anne Pollard of Ontonagon is seen during her sentencing hearing Wednesday in Ontonagon County Circuit Court with her attorney, James McKenzie. Pollard was sentenced to two months in jail for the attempted embezzlement for more than $15,000 from the Ontonagon Amateur Hockey Association.
Pollard still faces another 15 counts of embezzlement, including a 15-year felony count, involving Copper Country Mental Health. That case was remanded back to 98th District Court for a preliminary hearing.
A tearful Pollard read a written statement in which she apologized to the community.
"I carry with me the shame and guilt of my own terrible acts every day, and I feel it in this community terribly," she said.
One of the most painful reminders, she said, is "the fear and uncertainty" she sees in her children every day.
"I have always strived to give my kids peace and happiness ... and I hope and pray that you will grant me peace today," she said to Judge Janis Burgess.
The embezzlement was uncovered in 2011, when the new board began looking at the books and found discrepancies, said board president Scott Somero. When Pollard finally met with the board, she told them she had taken the money "for reasons we could not began to understand."
The missing money is still impacting the group. Somero said the 2011-12 season started out with a negative balance instead of the starting balance of $10,000. The organization also still had outstanding bills that would normally have been paid.
The Village of Ontonagon allowed the association to pay some bills later. But some supporters scaled back their donations. Others have sworn off financial support altogether.
"This embezzlement case nearly crippled a hockey program that's been running for 20 years," Somero said. "Had it not been for the determination and perseverance of the current board, the children of this community would have lost out on the opportunity to skate."
The association might also have lost the contract on its facility. Not only would the hockey players have lost out, Somero said, but also other groups who rely on that facility, such as Camp 911, figure skating, and an annual cancer benefit, among other uses.
"Because of all the hardships we've endured, and the negative impact that has been put on our community, we feel that Anne should make full restitution and be punished to the fullest extent of the law," he said.
Burgess said her role was to act as the "collective conscience" of the county. While the letters from her children were "heartrending," Burgess also reminded Pollard of Somero's comments.
"The very victim of this crime has been tarnished, because there are people who are now not willing to donate to an organization whose funds have been stolen ... this theft was from a charitable organization that has been in this community, provides so much to the youth of the community," she said.