On Thursday morning, Special Judge (Putnam County Superior Court Judge) Charles Bridges accepted a plea agreement in the case against Sonya M. Stroud, 42, Brazil, in Clay Superior Court.
Stroud was originally charged with a total of seven class C felony charges of forgery and five class D felony theft charges stemming from an investigation by the Brazil City Police Department into approximately $280,000 in missing funds at Brazil Trucking, Inc.
According to the 2009 case file, Stroud allegedly exerted "unauthorized control" over more than 100 company checks during a 10-year period without the permission or knowledge of her employer. The checks are normally used to repay expenses incurred by over-the-road truckers.
Although Defense Attorney Roscoe Stovall and Clay County Prosecutor Lee Reberger negotiated terms of the plea agreement, the attorneys left the sentencing portion open for the judge to determine.
As part of the proceedings, the victim was allowed the opportunity to make an impact statement to the court about how the loss of so much money financially affected a local business and its employees and ultimately and ironically led to Stroud's own loss of employment before the accounting nightmare was discovered during a restructuring attempt to save the business.
After presenting arguments regarding the aggravating and mitigating circumstances in the case, Bridges ruled that due to the severity of the crime and the pattern of behavior the sentences would be ordered to run consecutive in the case.
Convicted on one count of class C felony Forgery, Stroud was sentenced to six years, with two years suspended and good time credit allowed for the remaining four. Stroud has been incarcerated for approximately 552 days. Upon her release, Stroud will be placed on formal probation for two years.
Stroud was also convicted on four class D felony Theft charges. Bridges sentenced her to three years for each consecutive conviction before fully suspending them and placing her on formal probation for an additional 12 years.
Reberger explained to The Brazil Times that if Stroud should violate the terms of her probation at any time she could be returned to incarceration to serve any or all of the 14 years of probation.
As part of the usual terms of formal probation, Bridges ordered Stroud to seek counseling, have no contact with the victims, maintain gainful employment, sell off personal items and make at least minimum monthly restitution payments of $500 to the victim.
The court excused Stovall as the defense attorney of record and Stroud was returned to the custody of the Clay County Sheriff's Department for final processing and execution of the remainder of her sentence.