A former executive for the School Nutrition Association of Iowa was given a suspended 25-year prison sentenced and placed on five years of probation after admitting to stealing more than $150,000 from the organization.
If she successfully completes the terms of her probation, Norma Jean Adams will not have to serve the prison sentence.
Adams must also pay $156,248.25 in restitution and continue treatment with Gambler’s Anonymous and Center for Alcohol and Drug Services, District Court Judge Patrick McElyea ordered during a sentencing hearing Thursday in Scott County District Court.
The 74-year-old Adams pleaded guilty in October to commission of specified unlawful activity, a Class B felony and agreed to pay $100,000 of the restitution prior to sentencing.
However, District Court Judge Mark Cleve rejected the plea agreement at her sentencing hearing on Nov. 30 and gave her the opportunity to take back her guilty plea.
He cited the nature of the circumstances, the amount of money taken, and because she has two prior felony theft convictions as his basis for rejecting the plea.
The case was set for a final pretrial conference was set for March 7.
On Jan. 23, Chief District Judge Marlita Greve set a sentencing date for Thursday, according to court records.
According to a report filed June 1 by Iowa State Auditor Mary Mosiman, from Jan. 1, 2010, through July 31, 2016, an audit discovered $166,895.25 that was submitted to Adams but never made it into the association's account.
The checks, which came from dozens of school districts and food companies to pay fees for association events, were diverted for Adams' personal expenses and to support her addiction to casino gambling, the report said.
Adams admitted to taking the money in an interview with auditors and a Davenport police detective, saying she had blown through her personal funds "and then I took some money from the association," according to the report.
At one point, she said she felt "so guilty" about what she had done in 2014 that she paid back $10,650 but hid the reason for the repayment on financial documents, the report said.
She was arrested June 28 and was released from the Scott County Jail after posting $1,000 cash bond.
LaRae Doll, president of the School Nutrition Association of Iowa, wrote a letter filed in Scott County District Court on Feb. 8 that the theft caused a great financial hardship to the association.
She noted in her letter that Adams agreed to pay $100,000 in one lump sum and that the association "would rather have that payment of restitution rather than see prison time imposed, even though the defendant certainly deserves punishment for her actions."