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Published: Tuesday, 5/2/2006

Ex-BGSU alumni aide gets 90 days for stealing

Recknagel Recknagel

BOWLING GREEN - A Perrysburg woman who admitted stealing $62,000 from two organizations was placed on community control for four years and ordered to spend 90 days in the Wood County jail yesterday.

Susan L. Recknagel, 40, former assistant director of alumni affairs at Bowling Green State University, pleaded guilty in March to grand theft, a fourth-degree felony, for stealing about $31,000 from the alumni association and $31,000 from the Glenwood Elementary Parent Teacher Organization in Rossford where she was president.

She could have received up to 18 months in prison and a $5,000 fine, but Assistant Wood County Prosecutor Paul Dobson recommended local jail time and community control sanctions in part because she had repaid both organizations.

As part of a long list of community control sanctions, Wood County Common Pleas Judge Reeve Kelsey ordered Recknagel to perform 400 hours of community service, said she should have no contact with BGSU or the Glenwood PTO, and said she also could not work as a volunteer for any organization in which she would be required to handle money.

After her 90 days in jail - during which time she will be eligible to apply for the work release program - Recknagel is to spend 90 days on house arrest wearing an electronic monitoring device and, after that, to spend another 180 days on house arrest, although no electronic device will be required, the judge said.

"Although I cannot make this a sanction of community control, the court does expect you to pay all loans to family and friends that were used to pay the restitution," Judge Kelsey told her.

Recknagel's attorney, Scott Coon, confirmed to the court that his client's parents had helped her repay the two organizations but said they did that so the organizations could be made whole as soon as possible. Mr. Coon said Recknagel had cooperated with authorities from the beginning and never tried to broker a deal with the prosecution. "I think that shows Sue has taken responsibility," he told the court.

In a shaky voice, Recknagel told the judge she realized she had made a large mistake and said she was "relieved to the extent that I can start to rebuild my life." She was fired by BGSU in January.

Mr. Dobson agreed that Recknagel had cooperated and shown remorse but said there still must be a penalty for someone who stole from the PTO, then stole from her employer to cover up her theft from the school organization.

"Despite her sorrow and despite her regret, the simple fact of the matter is she stole from people who placed their trust in her - an extreme amount of trust," Mr. Dobson said.

He said such breaches of trust affect the whole community.

"This is far too prevalent with people being placed in positions of trust by family organizations, by companies, by businesses," he said. "People have to be placed in positions of trust. Organizations have to rely on people like Ms. Recknagel, and when they violate that trust to this extent, there has to be a penalty."

Contact Jennifer Feehan

at jfeehan@theblade.com

or 419-353-5972.

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