Former Tulsa Public Schools athletic director Stephanie Spring changes plea, cops to embezzlement

TULSA - Former Tulsa Public Schools athletic director Stephanie Spring appeared in court Thursday and admitted embezzling from the district when she pocketed stadium rental fees.

Spring appeared at the federal courthouse for a pre-trial hearing.

READ: Ex-TPS athletic director federally charged (http://bit.ly/14EkUHo)

Spring and assistant athletic directors Jon Wheeler and Trish Pruitt were the focus of an investigation into embezzlement and misappropriation in 2011. She later resigned in January 2012.

Spring pleaded not guilty to federal charges last month, but changed her plea Thursday.

Prosecutors say Spring pocketed money for the rental of school buildings their evidence includes emails prosecutors say implicate her in the scheme.

READ: 2NEWS obtains emails between ex-Tulsa Public Schools athletic director Stephanie Spring, associates (http://bit.ly/12JGL0x)

Upon admitting her wrongdoing, Spring released the following statement:

"I am sorry for what I have done.  I broke the law, I broke the people's trust and I broke the very core of my upbringing.  I have no excuse for what I did.  Though deeply remorseful, I am not yet in a position to ask for forgiveness and maybe I never will be.  After I right my wrong and pay my debt to society I will live the rest of my life working to put myself in a position to earn that forgiveness."

Tulsa Public Schools released the following statement regarding Spring's guilty plea:

"We are pleased that Ms. Spring has chosen to plead guilty in federal court today.  These are dollars that should have gone into the District's general fund, and were instead diverted and used by Ms. Spring to enrich herself.  Her actions clearly caused harm to TPS students and damaged the reputation of our district.  When taking on the responsibility of leadership, particularly in athletics, we hold ourselves out as an example to our youth.  It is disappointing when that sacred responsibility is treated so casually and with such disregard.  At least today we get some acknowledgement from Ms. Spring that she violated the public trust.

"Our thanks to the U.S. Attorney's office for their diligence and hard work.  We are appreciative of the many hours that have gone into the investigation of this case, as well as the fine work of the TPS Police Department." 

Spring was ordered to pay more than $90,000 in restitution as part of a plea agreement. Her formal sentencing hearing is scheduled for June.

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