Former Tri County principal sentenced for embezzlement


By Elisabeth Waldon • Last Updated 1:13 pm on Wednesday, September 05, 2012

STANTON — The former Tri County Middle School principal has been sentenced to do time on a work crew after pleading guilty to embezzling from his school.

William “Bill” Cichewicz was sentenced Thursday in 8th Judicial Circuit Court. He previously pleaded guilty to embezzlement from $200 to $1,000, a misdemeanor with a maximum sentence of one year.

He was sentenced to 25 days in jail — to be served on a work crew — six months probation and $1,705 in fines, costs and other fees.

Cichewicz was fired June 22 after he was charged with embezzling $1,350 from the school’s booster fund.

“As a school community, we are committed to excellence in all that we do,” said Tri County Area Schools Superintendent Al Cumings in a written statement. “This commitment means that we hold our students, staff and most of all our leadership accountable for behaviors and choices that do not reflect our community values.”

Cichewicz quickly made full restitution of the $1,350 he embezzled. He also wrote a letter of apology to the school district. In his letter, he detailed how he embezzled from the school over a period of months.

“I was tempted by the money that was available and I began to take some each time,” he said. “When confronted, I not only felt horrible about what I did, I also felt a sense of relief. Secrets such as these ate away at me as a person and as a leader. I felt guilt about what I was doing and my own violation of a moral code to which I normally adhere. I was trapped in the deceit that comes with breaking the trust of so many who looked up to me.

“When trust is broken, words are less important and actions over time are needed to restore a sense of credibility and respect,” he said. “It is my goal to engage with people in a way that demonstrates that lessons have been learned and behaviors have changed.”

In a follow up letter to parents, Cumings expressed his hope that the focus of the community would be “on the many positive accomplishments that occurred across our district this past year.”

In addition, the letter expressed appreciation to the many volunteers and booster club members for their fundraising assistance and hours of hard work that “keep student dreams and activities alive” in an era of shrinking budgets.

Steve Johnson has since been named principal at Tri County Middle School. Johnson is a former seventh grade English teacher at Tri County and has been assistant principal at Sparta Middle School for the past three years.

“Steve is excited to be back at Tri County,” Cumings said. “We are thrilled to have his leadership back at our school.”

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