The Franklin News-Post|
P. O. Box 250
310 Main Street, SW
Rocky Mount, Virginia 24151
Sarah Moody Arnold
Monday, December 16, 2013
By KEN BRADLEY - Staff Writer
A plea agreement was rejected Thursday in Franklin County Circuit Court in a case involving welfare fraud charges against a Franklin County High School teacher.
Sarah Moody Arnold, 41, was indicted in October on 17 felony charges, including seven counts of welfare fraud (larceny), seven counts of making a false statement on applications for assistance (perjury) and three counts of failing to report a change in circumstances that affected her eligibility to receive benefits from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) between July 2010 and July 2013.
The plea agreement would have dropped some of those 17 charges and reduced the others from felonies to misdemeanors, according to prosecutor Dwight Rudd.
But the plea agreement was rejected by Circuit Court Judge Stacey Moreau. She did not comment on why she rejected the plea agreement. Another judge will now be appointed to hear the case.
The hearing Thursday was a continuance of the same case that came before the court on Dec. 5 for a hearing. At that hearing, Moreau said the plea agreement offered at that time raised some question as to whether she could legally accept it.
If the new plea agreement had been accepted Thursday, Rudd said Arnold was prepared to make restitution for the money she received.
Arnold has been employed by the Franklin County school division since August 2000.
Although the school division cannot comment on the status of its employees, the division's policy it to suspend without pay any employee charged with a felony. If the employee is acquitted, the suspension is lifted and the employee is paid for the time he or she was suspended. If the employee is convicted, his or her employment is terminated.
An indictment is not a finding of guilt. It is a determination by jurors that enough evidence exists to warrant a trial.