Two Cleveland, Ohio, women who were both arrested and charged with stealing thousands, received vastly different outcomes.
Debbie Bosworth, a white former town’s clerk, was charged with embezzling nearly $250,000 from the city over two decades. For her crime, county court Judge Hollie Gallagher sentenced her to two years of probation, according to local publication Cleveland.
According to WKYC, Bosworth started working for the city in 1997, overseeing payments and other accounting duties.
The judge said Bosworth didn’t deserve to go to jail because she repaid the money she stole before Monday’s hearing. The mayor also did not request she serve a prison sentence in a letter he wrote to the court.
In the same county, however, Judge Rick Bell sentenced a Black woman to serve 18 months in prison for a similar crime. Karla Hopkins was charged with stealing more than $40,000 from school money intended for Maple Heights High School’s graduating class of 2018.
Debbie Bosworth, white and Karla Hopkins, black appeared in the same court house and this is what happened. Not driving while black. In court while black. @andersoncooper @yashar @Martina @NicolleDWallace @Trevornoah @StephenAtHome pic.twitter.com/6zzDrnTCmU
— JDiversity (@JimGLS) August 9, 2021
Hopkins was the former secretary at the school at the time of the incident.
The judge told the 51-year-old that by liquidating her public employee pension after being accused of stealing, the state was unable to seize the money to repay the district. As a result, she was sentenced to 18 months in prison.
Hopkins was charged with stealing almost $200,000 less than Bosworth. Despite that vast difference, officials called for the former school employee to be sentenced to up to 12 months in prison.
Hopkins has no prior criminal history and had been described as struggling with her mental health along with a gambling addiction. She later pleaded guilty in June to one count of theft in office.
Since being arrested, she has completed an eight-week rehab program and enrolled in a job development program. She has also started to repay the money that she stole with an initial payment of $5,000.
Despite her efforts to turn her life around, the judge told her “I think even your pastor would agree there has to be some consequences for your actions.”
Hopkins has also offered her apologies and expressed her remorse for he actions.
“I want to pay the Maple Heights city students back,” she said. “I’m so sorry to Maple Heights City Schools for not living up to the trust that they entrusted in me. I had a lot of friends there. I’m so sorry to them all.”
Bosworth, who pleaded no contest to 22 criminal counts, including theft in office and money laundering, spoke in court saying she “may have had reasons for what I did.”
Her attorney also shared that she used a majority of the stolen money to pay for her children’s education.