RACINE — A former corrections officer with the Racine County Sheriff’s Office will do time in the County Jail for skimming money from the fees she was supposed to collect.
Barbara Teeling, 40, was sentenced on Tuesday to eight months in the County Jail for two counts of theft in a business setting and attempted misconduct while in office, all misdemeanors.
The charges were originally felonies but were reduced to misdemeanors in a negotiated settlement with the Racine County District Attorney's Office.
The investigation into Teeling’s actions determined she took approximately $11,458 between Jan. 18, 2018 and Dec. 30, 2020. She paid back the money prior to sentencing.
However, Judge Robert Repischak told Teeling she could not pay back what she had taken — that is, the public trust.
“This country and society is going to hell in a handbasket,” Repischak said. “And you know why? Because people do not trust government institutions, and we have whole swaths of the community that don’t trust law enforcement.”
He continued and said people who were “ripping off the taxpayers” made things worse — especially for those still employed in law enforcement.
“Honestly, ma’am, if you had pled to a felony I would have sent you to prison,” Repischak told her.
Teeling is to report to the Racine County Jail on Nov. 4 to begin her sentence; however, she will be allowed to leave the detention center to work as allowed under the Huber Law.
On Jan. 13, investigators were dispatched to the Law Enforcement Center for a reported case of embezzlement from the Day Reporting Center at the Racine County Jail, which Teeling managed for four years prior to her arrest.
The program monitors inmates who are on release but wearing an electronic monitoring device.
Inmates on release are required to report to the 24-hour window on a daily basis where they are tested for drugs and alcohol and must pay a weekly fee of $105.
According to the criminal complaint, Teeling collected the $105 as part of her duties.
An investigation revealed that on multiple occasions Teeling collected and kept the $105, rather than putting it in the safe, per protocol.
Supervisors became suspicious when a program participant came to the 24-hour window and questioned why he had a balance when he had paid — as evidenced by the receipt he provided, signed by Teeling.
However, the Finance Department had no record of having received the payment.
On Tuesday, Teeling was emotional in court. Given the opportunity to speak on her own behalf, she could only say, “I am sorry.”
She was represented in court by attorney Laura Ann Walker, who told the court her client had pressures in her life and, as a result, she made bad decisions.
According to the criminal complaint, Teeling told investigators money troubles led to her skim money from the fees she was supposed to collect.
Walker asked the court for fines and probation, as opposed to incarceration, noting the defendant paid back the money she took.
“She has made the victim whole,” Walker said.
Repischak disagreed the victim was made whole, saying: “Not even close.”
“While you have paid back the money you stole from the taxpayers, you have not made the victim whole,” he said.
He asked what the community was supposed to think of the Sheriff’s Office, law enforcement and the administration of the jail when they see someone “ripping people off to the tune of $11,000?”
The judge declined the defense’s request for mercy.
“We’re not here for mercy,” he said. “We’re here for justice.”