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Joan Swaney to be sentenced in March

1/17/2014, 5:02 p.m.

Former Clarkston City Councilwoman Joan Swaney will be sentenced March 6 for embezzling more than $60,000 from the Clarkston Community Center.

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Joan Swaney

Swaney, 67, pleaded guilty to the charges on Dec. 16. She faces up to 30 years in prison and a fine of up to $1,000,000.

U.S. Attorney Sally Quillian Yates said Swaney failed to live up to her personal motto, “Live with purpose, act with integrity,” when she stole tens of thousands of dollars from the center.

Swaney, a 35-year Clarkston resident, had been on the council since 2010. She served as the city’s vice mayor in 2012. When she resigned on Oct. 22 from the council, the city said its funds were not affected. Swaney worked as the office manager at the Community Center from November 2003 to December 2012. Her responsibilities included bookkeeping and other administrative tasks.

The missing funds were identified during an internal audit conducted in 2012.

The Oct. 17 federal grand jury indictment said that in 2010, Swaney began writing checks to herself from the center’s bank account at BB&T and forging the signature of the director. The checks were written without the authorization of the director, who managed the center’s day-to-day affairs.

Swaney deposited the forged checks into her personal account and used the funds to pay for family vacations, repair her personal vehicle and rent a charter boat.

The indictment said she varied the check amounts and made fictitious entries in the memo lines to make it appear the funds had been spent on expenses relating to the center’s operations. She also used the center’s debit card to withdraw cash of $300 and $600 at a time once or twice a month.

In determining the actual sentence, the court will consider the United States Sentencing Guidelines, which are not binding but provide appropriate sentencing ranges for most offenders. Swaney’s sentencing hearing is scheduled for March 6 at U.S. District Court in Atlanta.