A federal appeals court has upheld the seven-year sentence given to the former C-E-O of a central Iowa job training agency for misusing federal funds. Ramona Cunningham was sentenced after pleading guilty to charges in the corruption scandal at the now defunct Central Iowa Employment and Training Consortium or CIETC.
A state audit in 2006 found that Cunningham, a high school drop out, was paid nearly $800,000 during her last two-and-a-half years with CIETC. The audit also found big bonuses and salaries were given to other CIETC officials.
Cunningham eventually pleaded guilty to eight of the 30 criminal counts against her — but then appealed seeking to reduce her 84-month sentence. The Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that Cunningham’s sentence was correctly enhanced under the U.S. sentencing guidelines for obstruction of justice, based on her ordering destruction of evidence that would have shown inconsistencies in CIETC’s reporting practices prior to an audit; and that Cunningham qualified for a sentencing enhancement based upon her role as a leader and organizer of criminal activity.
The Court of Appeals also found that the sentence was not “substantively unreasonable”; instead, the court found that imposition of this sentence was “amply supported by the record” and did not represent an abuse of discretion by the sentencing judge.
See the entire ruling on the courts website here: www.ca8.uscourts.gov.