Jeffrey Olson found out that humility can go a long way. Olson, 59, pleaded guilty on January 5 to embezzlement charges. A former math teacher at Belfast Area High School, he had served for two decades as treasurer of SAD 34 Education Association, an affiliate of the National Education Association. Unbeknownst to his colleagues, for some of that time he’d embezzled about $140,000. Upon his arrest, he cooperated with police, admitting he took the money to cover financial difficulties. He also paid back around $90,000 back in June when the thefts had been discovered by the new local president, Betty Lu Brown. Brown had opened a bank statement and discovered 32 checks, each for $514 written out to Olson or his wife over a three-month period. She then notified police, who with Olson’s cooperation, discovered a lot more missing.
Olson’s cooperation and contrition moved Waldo County Superior Court Justice Donald H. Marden to sentence him to two years in prison with all but four months suspended, plus one year of probation and $52,402.80 in restitution. Olson quickly made good on the latter by taking out a mortgage on his house. “He paid it all back, he has no prior record, he cooperated with the police and he admitted his involvement immediately when he was confronted with it,” said Assistant District Attorney Eric Walker. “The judge was satisfied with the recommendation.” (Bangor Daily News, 1/6/06).