For five years, Marge Pettway worked at Market Lubbock Inc., an economic corporation funded by tax dollars. An audit revealed that she booked flights and hotels on her own account, got reimbursed and then canceled the bookings to pocket the money. It is believed she stole more than $26,000 doing this.
"I didn't do it," said Pettway after her court hearing. She maintains her innocence, but she pleaded guilty in district court on theft charges. "I pleaded guilty because in order to go to court, it would have cost me $40,000-$80,000. It wasn't worth it," said Pettway.
District Judge Brad Underwood ordered Pettway to give back the stolen money and Friday, she did. Market Lubbock Inc., now known as the Lubbock Economic Development Alliance (LEDA,) received a check for $25,000. "She would not have given $25,000 if she was innocent. I think this shows that she did not want to stand trial before a jury in Lubbock County," said LEDA C.E.O., Gary Lawrence.
Lawrence says he has been waiting for this day for two and half years. Lawrence says the money is going back to where it belongs. "This goes back to the Convention and Visitors Bureau and they can go and use this money to promote Lubbock," he said.
Judge Underwood also gave Pettway three days in jail, but she has already served that time. Lawrence says their policies have tightened up in regards to travel reimbursements. He says when people want to travel, two people have to sign off on it. He believes this will keep people from misusing the money.
|Courts & Crime|