DANVILLE — A Danville schools administrator who was fired for stealing thousands of dollars from the district won't have to serve any prison time.
Vermilion County Circuit Judge Tom O'Shaughnessy on Friday sentenced former food-service director Greg Lazzell to two years of probation after the 52-year-old Danville man pleaded guilty to one count of theft of government property between $10,000 and $100,000 and one count of official misconduct.
Lazzell also faced five counts of intimidation, but those charges were dismissed.
O'Shaughnessy also ordered Lazzell to pay $22,800.22 in restitution to the district, which Lazzell's attorney, Dave Ryan, said he planned on paying in full immediately following his sentencing.
In addition, the judge ordered him to undergo a substance-abuse evaluation and any recommended treatment.
Under the terms of his probation, Lazzell is able to travel to Indiana to undergo treatment and work. State's Attorney Jacqueline Lacy said he operates a food truck.
Following the hearing, Lacy said she believed the sentencing was appropriate, given that Lazzell has no prior criminal history and that he paid the restitution in full, so that "District 118 will be made whole again."
She added that as a result of his actions, Lazzell is now a convicted felon.
Lazzell ran the food-service department from April 2011 until Sept. 13, when the school board suspended him, placing him on unpaid leave. He was charged with the felonies two days later, then fired on Sept. 20.
If the case had gone to trial, Lacy said she would have presented testimony from Danville schools Business Director Heather Smith, other district employees and Danville police Detective Ralph Dunham showing that between September 2014 and September 2017, Lazzell took cash from the district.
"Between those dates, the defendant would go to Lowe's and other stores and make purchases on District 118's accounts," Lacy said.
She said then Lazzell would then cut off the bottoms of the receipts — which showed the district’s accounts had been billed — and go Danville High School, where he would get cash reimbursements from the lunchroom drawers.
Those reimbursements totaled $22,800.22.
If he had been convicted at trial, Lazzell could have faced between four to 15 years in prison or up to 48 months of probation for the theft charge, and between two and five years in prison or up to 30 months of probation or conditional discharge for the official misconduct charge.
When O'Shaughnessy asked Lazzell if he wished to make a statement, Lazzell quietly said, "No, your honor."