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Poplar Teacher Ordered To Pay Restitution

Poplar School teacher Shannon Marie O’Brien Murphy, 58, has confessed to embezzling more than $65,000 from a special education nonprofit during her time as the organization’s treasurer. According to media reports, the confessions may have spared her time in a federal prison. Her hearing was held May 28 in U.S. District Court in Missoula.

In sentencing Murphy to five years of probation, U.S. District Judge Dana Christensen cited the pressing need for returning the stolen money back to the Montana Council for Exceptional Children. The concern was also stressed by Murphy’s public defender, John Rhodes.

At the hearing, Christensen ordered Murphy to pay $65,623.74 in restitution to the nonprofit.

In a statement to the judge, Murphy said, “The MCEC organization does so much for teachers, and in turn, the teachers give back to the kids. I really want to make amends to this. It’s not who I am. It’s not who I want to be. I want to be sure that I have taken care of it.”

Murphy admitted to the crime when confronted by the former board and she also admitted it when speaking with federal investigators. Murphy signed an agreement in January offering a guilty plea to one count of wire fraud. Murphy was indicted on 28 counts of fraud related to the scheme. Prosecutors agreed to dismiss the other 27 counts.

Christensen stated that he believed a probationary sentence adequately reflected the seriousness of the offense.

At press time, Murphy remains listed as a teacher with the Poplar School District. It is not clear whether she was rehired for the 2020-21 school year.

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