Lynchburg, VA - For years, she was a trusted employee at the First Presbyterian Church Weekday School.
Allyson Lowrey pleaded guilty on Thursday to one count of felony embezzlement and the Lynchburg Circuit Court judge ordered her to pay more than $17,000 in restitution.
Lowrey worked as the bookkeeper at First Presbyterian Church Weekday School in Lynchburg from 2009 to March 2012.
She resigned after the school discovered she was writing herself extra paychecks and stealing cash tuition, according to Lynchburg Commonwealth's Attorney Mike Doucette.
She will pay back the $11,152 she embezzled and an additional $6,416 to "put the books back together."
The stolen money came to light earlier this year when the school's phones cut off because the bill wasn't paid, the school's director explained.
"I think that's the hard part too. It's the betrayal of someone that you trusted and someone who had their children at our school," said Marie Daughtrey.
Lowrey will have to pay $250 a month until all the money is paid back. Her plea deal avoids any active jail time.
"Putting people in jail for this may or may not be a deterrent. I'm not gonna say it is because Bernie Madoff stole billions and I don't think that's deterring anyone on Wall Street," said Commonwealth's Attorney Mike Doucette after court.
The school's director hopes the guilty plea marks the beginning of a new chapter.
"We want to move forward now and enjoy all the little friends that are at our school and all the happy times that we have there," Daughtrey said.