The former maintenance operations coordinator for Floyd County Schools pleaded guilty to his part in a conspiracy to steal funds from the school system.
Robert Chad Watson worked for the school system for a decade and at least part of that time directly under former maintenance director Derry Richardson.
In that role he was responsible for reconciling education local option sales tax balances. Prosecutors said the conspirators preyed on those ELOST funds — primarily used for construction and maintenance projects — in their scheme.
He’s the tenth person to enter a guilty plea in the case; the other nine defendants, including Richardson, pleaded guilty and were sentenced on July 27.
In a short hearing in Floyd County Superior Court on Thursday, Judge Jack Niedrach sentenced Watson to 10 years probation with one year on home confinement.
Watson also must pay $11,653 in restitution to the Floyd County Board of Education.
Watson was sentenced under the First Offender Act, which means if he successfully completes his sentence the crime will no longer be on his record.
Authorities have said the conspirators stole more than $6 million from the school system by creating inflated or bogus invoices for construction and maintenance projects.
Of that sum Watson is attributed to taking approximately $36,900, Assistant District Attorney Emily Johnson told the court.
Richardson, along with the majority of the defendants, was arrested in 2016. He used his position as maintenance director of the school system to facilitate the scheme and reported to the jail this past Monday to begin serving his 20-year prison sentence.
Richardson is still negotiating with prosecutors about how much restitution he will have to pay.
Most of the defendants who pleaded guilty were sentenced to either home confinement or probation and several will be required to pay restitution to the county schools or fines.
Prosecutors said in a previous hearing that a vast majority of the $6 million stolen from the school system has been recovered or repaid.