MONTICELLO — A former employee of the Blue Ridge school district and Special Olympics Illinois has been sentenced to 30 months in prison after pleading guilty earlier this year to stealing more than $354,000 from both organizations.
During his time as an information technology coordinator at both places, Joshua Raymer, 45, of Clinton implemented a scheme where he used employer funds to buy expensive computer switches, then resold them and pocketed the money.
He was charged in February by federal authorities with wire fraud, a felony, and pleaded guilty later that month.
U.S. District Court Judge Sue Myerscough sentenced him Thursday in a hearing conducted via videoconference.
Raymer’s scam resulted in the theft of $336,276 from Blue Ridge, where he worked from 2015 to 2018, and $17,898 from Special Olympics Illinois, where Raymer was employed after Blue Ridge.
He was also ordered to repay $106,200 to a vendor who was never paid for switches he ordered.
Blue Ridge has already been reimbursed for the loss by its insurance company, so that portion of the restitution will go to the insurance carrier.
Myerscough’s sentence was the same as the one recommended by U.S. Attorney Timothy Bass.
“This sentence adequately acknowledges the seriousness of the offense, promotes respect for the law, provides just punishment and hopefully affords adequate deterrent,” Myerscough said.
Defense attorney Douglas B. Johnson argued for a prison sentence of less than the 27 to 33 months recommended, noting that Raymer had no criminal record, that he took responsibility by pleading guilty, was a decorated veteran of the Marine Corps, and that his family, including two children, could suffer in his absence.
“He is a great father, a valued member of the community, but most of all, remorseful for his actions,” Johnson said.
The maximum sentence for wire fraud is 20 years in prison.
Myerscough acknowledged that letters on his behalf show he has “mostly set a good example” in the raising of his children, but noted the “seriousness of the offense” that took a significant amount of planning and spanned at least 2.5 years and two different employers.
Johnson admitted it will be difficult for Raymer to make significant restitution in the near future due to his current financial condition, but the defendant promised he would pay the money back.
“I’ll spend the rest of my life proving this is not who I am,” Raymer said. “I will do everything I can to pay back the school district and Special Olympics. I will work any job I can to pay it back.”
Current Blue Ridge Superintendent Hillary Stanifer attended the sentencing hearing. She did not speak, but entered a victim-impact statement into the record.
“When asked what is the best aspect of the district, many will describe how we are a family environment. This family environment was shattered when Mr. Raymer deliberately chose to violate the ‘family’ trust,” Stanifer wrote in her statement. “When a school employee violates the trust of the district, as did Mr. Raymer, the employee does not assume the entire responsibility. The community has lost trust in the district as a whole.”
She added that the financial loss to the district does not stop with the stolen funds, but extends to the higher insurance rates it has paid “due to the actions of Mr. Raymer.”
Raymer requested to be placed in the correctional facility in Pekin, or as close to Clinton as possible. Myerscough said she would include that in her recommendations. He will be allowed to self-report to prison once a location is assigned.