A former Marengo fifth-grade teacher accused of stealing more than $13,000 from the teachers union pleaded guilty to an amended theft charge Tuesday, according to McHenry County court records and a union representative.
Amanda Oie, 27, of the 200 block of West Perry Road in Belvidere, pleaded guilty as part of a plea deal to a misdemeanor charge of theft of less than $500.
She was sentenced to one year of probation and ordered to pay back the district $13,170.43 in restitution plus court fees and fines.
She was initially charged last year with theft of between $10,000 and $100,000, a Class 2 felony.
Had Oie been convicted of the more serious charge, she could have been sentenced to between three and seven years in prison. The charge was also probational.
She is accused of stealing the money from the Marengo Area Educational Association between January and December 2020, according to court documents.
Karen Weeks, president of the association, said Oie was the union’s treasurer when she used a debit card to steal the money for her own personal use.
The theft was uncovered when Weeks received an email from the Illinois Education Association and National Education Association stating they had not received more than $50,000 in union dues.
Review of the fund, to which only Oie had access and was supposed to be paying the dues from, led to the discovery that money had been stolen, Weeks said.
“None of the dues had been paid for the entire year, and that is how it all unraveled,” Weeks said. “If she would have paid the dues, then it would have taken a much longer time to find she was stealing.”
It hurt a lot. We are a small district so it is like (being stolen from by) a family member.— Karen Weeks, president of the Marengo Area Educational Association
The fund, paid into by the district’s 74 union members, also helps pay for classroom supplies and $50 scholarships that eighth graders can use for a variety of purposes, she said.
“It hurt a lot,” Weeks said. “We are a small district, so it is like (being stolen from by) a family member.”
Weeks said the charge being amended and the sentence of probation is “unfair.”
Since the theft was discovered, the union changed how the account is accessed and it no longer has a debit card attached to it.
Oie worked at the district as a fifth-grade teacher from August 2018 until she resigned in December 2021, Marengo-Union Elementary School District 165 Superintendent Lea Damisch said.
An attempt to reach Oie’s attorney on Wednesday was not successful.