Michelle Seidler was sentenced to 90 days in jail, five years’ probation and ordered to pay $250 a month to cover at least half the losses for embezzling money from the North Platte Kids Academy, which she directed.
Seidler pled no contest to the charge on March 14 in a deal that dropped two other theft charges.
According to court records Seidler, 44, made 75 credit and debit card transactions on the Kid’s Academy bank account from October 2016 — January 2018 for non-business purposes.
The majority of the transactions occurred at North Platte Wal-Mart, and also included vendors such as Menards, Premier Rental, Dunkin Donuts, Scooters Coffee, Qdoba, Walgreens, Dollar Tree, Bath and Body Works, the AMC Theatre and other places.
Review of the receipts showed they were mainly for personal items or groceries.
Also, 13 of the unauthorized Wal-Mart purchases included cash back. A $100 ATM withdrawal was made on the NPKA account, with no financial records to account for the money. The total cash was over $1,000.
In addition, a $900 furniture rental was made in her name and delivered to her home address.
Her total personal purchases amounted to over $7,000.
The total loss to the academy was more than $30,000.
In a count that was dropped, she over-billed the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services from October 2017 – February 2018 for costs for kids who were not at the daycare. That loss was greater than $10,000.
The county and the defense attorney both reviewed the pre-sentence investigation report compiled by the probation office.
Deputy County Attorney Kortnei Hoeft said she agreed with its recommendations.
Defense Attorney Robert Lindemeier said his client felt “great remorse” for what she did.
Lendemeier said that Seidler’s personal financial problems led to her actions, admitting those were just excuses. He said she now has a job and the ability to pay restitution each month.
“She did spend 47 days in jail,” Lindemeier added, “and if the court imposes jail time, she would like to have some time to report. I think she would be a good candidate for probation.”
Seidler apologized to everyone involved.
“I want to apologize to the court, the North Platte Kids Academy, all of my employees and my family,” she said. “I want to make sure they know I am very sorry for it.”
Before Lincoln County District Judge Michael Piccolo handed down the sentence, he spoke to her at length.
“Before sentencing, I look closely at the pre-sentence evaluation (by probation officers) and am also guided by statutes in the state law,” he said.
“I also take into consideration your age and educational background.”
Piccolo said he looked at her social background, her past criminal history and motivation for the offense.
“And of course, the seriousness of the offense (is a factor), as it specifically affected quite a few people in this community,” he said. “The PSI talked about the possible closure of the academy, given the fact that you took a considerable amount of money.”
Piccolo noted that she stole in the neighborhood of $2,000 a month in the 17 months she was in charge of operations at the daycare center.
“You have a very high degree of personal responsibility and in light of your educational background, the court can reasonably infer in each of these offenses you knew exactly what you were doing,” he said.
Of more concern, it was not an isolated incident but a series of multiple acts over a relatively short period of time, he said.
“However, to your credit, you don’t have a significant criminal history,” he added. “The court has to look at that and consider it as well. That is what the legislature wants.”
Piccolo said the probation office indicated Seidler would be a good candidate for probation.
“In light of that, the court agrees and will place you on probation,” he said.
Piccolo emphasized that he was giving her the maximum allowable probation sentence, and due to the seriousness of the crime, he ordered the maximum allowable jail time.
“The statute allows 90 days with probation,” he said. “And the court feels you have the ability to pay restitution. The PSI notes that Kids Academy paid $1,000 and the insurance company paid $35,000 (of the stolen money.)”
He set the $250-a-month restitution during her five years of probation, so she will pay back about $15,000.
“The court finds you can’t pay it all back, but you can pay a significant part of it back,” he said.
Piccolo also ordered her to complete a psychological evaluation and told her as a condition of probation, she must follow all the recommendations that stem from the evaluation.
Piccolo told her to report to the Lincoln County jail on June 10 to complete her jail sentence.