A Windham school bus driver who falsified her time sheets and was paid almost $1,500 she did not earn over two months in 2011 recently was sentenced to probation, ordered to perform community service and to make restitution to her former employer.
Caroyl L. Fowler, 59, of 10330 S.R. 303, Windham Township, was given nine months in prison on two felony charges by Visiting Judge Marvin Shapiro, a retired Summit County Common Pleas Court judge. He then suspended the sentence on the condition that Fowler serve an 18-month probation term, pay restitution to her victims, pay court costs and do 100 hours of community service work, Portage County Presecutor Victor Vigluicci said.
Vigluicci said his office recommended jail time as a sentence. Fowler faced a maximum of 18 months in prison on a charge of theft in office, a fourth-degree felony, and a maximum of one year in prison on a charge of theft, a fifth-degree felony. Ohio sentencing law made it much more likely she would receive probation as a sentence because the crime was not one of violence and was her first felony conviction.
Following a bench trial in October, Shapiro found Fowler guilty of stealing from the Windham School District by falsifying her time sheets. An investigation by the Windham Police Department, the school district and State Auditor Dave Yost's office found that over a 54-day period between March and April 2011, Fowler was paid $1,468 for bus trips she did not make between Windham and Ravenna.
Vigluicci previously said Fowler was exposed after a substitute bus driver driving for Fowler on April 28, 2011, reported to a supervisor there were no students on a bus run trip from Windham to the Maplewood Career Center. Fowler's run was supposed to carry the students from Windham to the Cooperative Learning Program, a non-traditional educational program for students with emotional or behavioral issues.
Windham school administrators discovered that the students who were enrolled in the program had either all dropped out or found alternate transportation, Vigluicci said.
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