Deborah Kay Sims sentenced to 1 year for theft, ethics charges - WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

Former Madison Co. Commission employee sentenced to 1 year

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Former Madison County Commission employee Deborah Kay Sims was sentenced to one year in the county jail for theft and ethics violations (Source: Metro Jail) Former Madison County Commission employee Deborah Kay Sims was sentenced to one year in the county jail for theft and ethics violations (Source: Metro Jail)
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HUNTSVILLE, AL (WAFF) -

Former Madison County Commission employee Deborah Kay Sims was sentenced to one year in the county jail, and three years probation for theft and ethics violations.

Sims pleaded guilty to theft and ethics charges in May. Prosecutors said Sims took advantage of county bank accounts and credit cards and stole more than $150,000.

Investigators discovered thousands of undocumented withdrawals and purchases from the county's fishing rodeo account.

Judge Ruth Anne Hall told the courtroom she wanted the sentence to be a deterrent to others who would consider stealing tax payer funds. Sims apologized multiple times in the courtroom for stealing the money from the County Commission. She spent some of the money on trips in Miami, Baltimore, Nashville, and on swim wear in Texas.

The theft happened over several years, and Sims already paid back around $50,000. She still has to repay the remaining $100,000.

Sims will be allowed to apply for work release. She has surgery set for next week, but the judge wants it pushed back if possible. Judge Hall said she wasn't going to let Sims undergo that surgery as an inmate, because tax payers will be on the hook for it. Instead, Sims will get released on a furlough status if doctors can't push back the surgery and Sims will return when the procedure is over.

Sims' family had hoped the judge would give her a more lenient sentence because she didn't have a criminal history. Nearly a dozen of Sims' friends and family attended the sentencing, some driving hours to try to convince the judge to give Sims probation.

Sims' sister said she admitted to making a mistake and that her family needed her. Judge Hall told the court before announcing the sentence that there's an expectation that government employees conduct themselves in a certain way.

"She's a great person," said Glenda Reed, Sims' sister. "We know she messed up, but we all mess up in life. She got the sentence, but you know she's going to be punished the rest of her life for that. I think there's probably some people that do deserve jail, but she's not one of them."

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