A judge threw the book at the former director of the Walkerton Public Library.
45 year old Scott Klingerman was sentenced to 20 months in prison for using library funds to pay his health club membership bill and to pay for a personal stay at the Hilton Hotel in Knoxville, Tennessee.
The 20 month sentence is just one month shy of the maximum allowed under the sentencing guidelines in federal court.
“We knew there wasn’t going to be a very long sentence because the guidelines but we’re pleased that he didn’t get the least that he could have gotten. We feel very good about 20 months you know, it could have been a year and a day, so 20 months is better,” said current Library Director Traci Stewart. “One of the board members at our meeting last night said ‘we were financially raped,’ and we were.”
Today in U.S. District Court in South Bend, a tearful Scott Klingerman said “I was wrong, there was no excuse for the way I behaved.” Klingerman, who was raised in Walkerton and attended John Glenn High School, also apologized for the embarrassment he caused his family.
The 20 month sentence came despite the fact that the amount of money tied to Klingerman’s criminal activity was set at $26,654.62, a marked decrease from some $95,000 in misspent library funds originally identified in an audit from the Indiana State Board of Accounts.
Much of today’s testimony focused on what Klingerman did right while on the job. Klingerman himself took the stand and spoke of programming changes and building improvements accomplished during his tenure.
Klingerman’s five year domestic partner Brian Peck said he helped out at the library, and that together their work produced a fourfold increase in patrons.
The defense claimed that Klingerman was not someone who was trying to destroy a library, but rather someone who was trying to build up a community asset.
The judge was told that Klingerman was not a hero or a villain but rather a flawed human being.
U.S. District Court Judge Robert Miller said he’d never heard anything like it, despite presiding over numerous fraud cases. Judge Miller compared it to someone defending themselves against a Ponzi scheme by arguing that the initial group of investors made money.
Current Library Director Traci Stewart downplayed the positive impact Klingerman had on the library. “He could say we painted, but the paint was donated, and he can say we put all that landscaping out front but all of that was also donated. So, sweat equity yes, did he use library money to do that? No.”
The prosecution argued that there was only one thing Klingerman liked more than the library and that was spending the library’s money. The list of Klingerman’s ATM withdrawals was said to run six pages long, with the stealing starting just a couple of days after Klingerman took the job.
“From the very first day he was instated and not just one ATM withdrawal a day, there were multiple ATM withdrawals every day or every other day, it was just consistently treating the money as if it was his own instead of taxpayer money meant for the use of taxpayers,” said Stewart.
Klingerman has actually been behind bars since February of 2015 because he violated the terms of his pretrial release by testing positive for marijuana use three separate times. Klingerman has already served about four months of his 20 month sentence