DALLAS (AP) - A former Dallas police officer who scammed the city's Crime Stoppers program for more than $250,000 while she ran it was sentenced Monday to just under four years in prison.
Theadora Ross, 52, apologized in court during a sentencing hearing after pleading guilty in August to income tax evasion and conspiracy to commit wire fraud. Ross had previously admitted to giving a co-defendant bogus tip numbers and code words to collect rewards from a bank and share the money.
She collected more than $250,000 over five years, money that prosecutors said went to a luxury car, granite countertops and other home improvements.
U.S. District Judge David Godbey called Ross' crime "extraordinarily reprehensible" before handing down a sentence of 46 months.
"She swore a solemn order to preserve and protect and defend, and she betrayed that oath systematically for years," Godbey said.
Ross' attorney, Robert Udashen, had asked for probation because Ross is the sole caretaker of a grown daughter with Down syndrome and heart problems. Godbey said he would likely have given Ross more prison time had it not been for her daughter's situation.
Ross, of the Dallas suburb of Rowlett, was head of Dallas Crime Stoppers from 2006 to 2010, according to prosecutors. As part of her job, she would decide which tips would be paid and prepare a list of tip numbers that could be redeemed at a bank. She admitted to including bogus tip numbers on that list.
According to prosecutors, co-defendant Malva R. Delley, 38, of Dallas, would present the bogus tip numbers, collect the cash and split the money with Ross. Delley pleaded guilty last year but has yet to be sentenced.
Prosecutor Errin Martin on Friday said Ross used the money to pamper herself, not to benefit her daughter.
Udashen acknowledged that as a police officer, Ross should have known better.
"She shouldn't have done it, but she did," Udashen said, adding that Ross' daughter shouldn't have to be punished for her mother's crime.
Godbey said he was angry at what he called an "outrageous betrayal of the public trust." He also said he accepted some measure of responsibility for separating Ross from her child, but added, "I wonder if she thought what would happen to her daughter if she got caught."
Ross was ordered to pay $274,000 in restitution and is required to report to prison on Jan. 14. She declined to comment after the hearing.
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