BLOOMINGTON — A Bloomington woman was sentenced to probation and 180 days in jail Monday for stealing more than $180,000 from the Eagles Club in Bloomington.
Theresa Fitchorn, 44, pleaded guilty Nov. 2 to theft of over $10,000. She admitted to taking money from the Eagles between February and July 2014.
Eagles President Bob Fisher said he and other members were disappointed that Fitchorn, a member who served as treasurer and secretary before the embezzlement was discovered, received probation.
"We were really disappointed she didn't get actual prison time. This was heinous. It didn't just affect us. She damaged the whole community," said Fisher, who attended the sentencing hearing with about a dozen other members.
Fisher said Big Brothers Big Sisters of McLean County, Habitat for Humanity, YouthBuild and local veterans organizations were among the groups that lost out on donations from the Eagles after its bank account was drained to a $31 balance.
Judge Robert Freitag noted in his comments that the law requires a sentence of probation for first-time felons unless a community-based sentence would deprecate the seriousness of the offense. Fitchorn's conduct supports a prison term, said Freitag, but her need to work to pay restitution also was a consideration.
"I expect you to work and make restitution to the victims in this case," said Freitag.
Fitchorn also was ordered to serve 180 days in jail but with day-for-day credit for good behavior and credit for eight days she served before her release on bond, she will serve 82 days.
In comments to the judge, Fitchorn apologized to Eagles members and her family for the theft.
"All I can say is I'm sorry," said Fitchon, adding that she bought groceries, clothing and jewelry with a portion of the money.
Assistant State's Attorney Brad Rigdon asked for the three-year maximum term outlined in a plea agreement that included dismissal of more serious theft and financial crimes charges.
"The seriousness of the offense warrants more than a slap on the wrist," said Rigdon.
Bloomington police Detective Jared Roth said bank records showed Fitchorn withdrew more than $180,000 in cash and used the Eagles credit card for purchases. Groceries, clothing and gambling trips accounted for some of the money but a complete accounting was never made, said Roth.
Defense lawyer Stephanie Wong argued that Fitchorn was receiving mental health treatment and had undergone bariatric surgery. She also attends a support group for gambling addicts, said Wong.
The consequences of having a felony record will be long-lasting and severe for Fitchorn, said Wong.
The Eagles has tightened its bookkeeping measures since the theft, said Fisher. The organization, which puts its actual losses from the theft closer to $250,000, is rebuilding, said Fisher.
"The lights are still on and we're in the black. The Eagles is very strong and once again helping people," said Fisher.