Angola prison official gets probation for stealing $115K

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - A former Louisiana State Penitentiary official received a sentence of five years probation Wednesday and was ordered to repay the nearly $116,000 she stole from a nonprofit committee that provided recreational opportunities for prison employees.

Shirley Whittington, 47, who formerly managed Angola's emergency medical services department, appeared in federal court Wednesday, August 23 as US District Judge James Brady decided her fate on a wire fraud conviction.

"You're a thief, and you stole from people who really thought the world of you," Brady said, addressing Whittington at the end of the hearing. "You're a greedy person who was in a position of trust... I'm giving you the opportunity to try to make amends."

Rather than sentence her to prison, Brady said he'd rather see her repay the victims she stole from.

Whittington attained the high rank of colonel and served as treasurer of the Angola Employee Recreation Committee before resigning amid the federal investigation last September. A federal grand jury indicted her in February, and she later pleaded guilty to the charge.

She was convicted of stealing a total of $115,519 over several years. Prosecutors said she stole the money by cashing checks, making ATM withdrawals, receiving cash back through debit card purchases, and buying personal items with the committee's checking account.

The investigation resulted in state charges against a second employee, former Lt. Col. Deborah Leonard. District Attorney Sam D'Aquilla's office handled that case.

Leonard was accepted into a pre-trial diversion program, which will keep a conviction off her record.

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