Wednesday, October 13, 1999

Former school official sentenced

Theft charge yields probation, fine

The Cincinnati Enquirer

        LEBANON — Accused of stealing, Jon Reinhard lost a respectable job as school principal in Clermont County and a 10-year seat on the Mason school board.

        That was enough punishment, a Warren County judge said Tuesday when Mr. Reinhard was sentenced on a theft charge for double-billing the Mason district $376.78 in travel expenses last year.

        Instead of six months in jail, Mr. Reinhard will spend the next two years on probation.

        “It is the court's opinion that those impacts on career and reputation are sufficient ... any jail term would be redundant,” said Judge Neal Bronson, of common pleas court.

        He suspended a six-month jail sentence and $750 of a $1,000 fine, ordering Mr. Reinhard to pay $250.

        After standing silently before the judge, Mr. Reinhard declined comment as he left the courtroom.

        “I've said all I've got to say,” Mr. Reinhard said.

        The 38-year-old Mason resident has maintained his innocence, saying the double-billing was a bookkeeping error. Even so, he admitted guilt to a misdemeanor charge of theft in a plea agreement that also forced him to resign from the Mason school board.

        Mr. Reinhard told The Cincinnati Enquirer last month that the guilty plea was a legal maneuver so he would not have to give up his teaching career.

        Prosecutors had threatened to seek a more serious charge of theft in office against Mr. Reinhard. A conviction could have sent him to prison for up to a year and would have barred him from teaching in Ohio and from holding public office.

        Mr. Reinhard's legal woes in Warren County began in August after a forced resignation from Clermont Northeastern High School, where he was principal for two years.

        There he was accused of double-billing the district $3,000 for travel expenses. School officials decided not to pursue criminal charges if he quit.

        In Warren County, prosecutors said he submitted expenses and was reimbursed for a business trip to San Antonio, including meals, in December. He received reimbursement from both the Ohio School-To-Work program and the Mason district.


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