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Convicted Alabama lawmaker remains on college payroll.

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) -- Sue Schmitz stands convicted for wrongly taking more than $177,000 in salary from a two-year college system program, but the ousted state House member is still on the program's payroll--and the beneficiary of a court order to get back pay all the way to her 2006 termination.

Federal prosecutors, however, say they will seek forfeiture of all the money, including the back pay.

Federal court jurors in Decatur who found Schmitz guilty of fraud were not told of a January ruling by Montgomery Circuit Judge Truman Hobbs Jr. ordering Central Alabama Community College to reinstate her and two others to college system jobs. He found they had been improperly dismissed in 2006.

Because of the ruling, Schmitz remained on the two-year college payroll, even though the pay is for a job that jurors determined was a fraud.

Martha Simmons, a spokes-woman for the two-year college system, said its attorneys have appealed Hobbs' ruling but "the order is still in effect and we're not really commenting on any pending litigation."

U.S. Attorney Alice Martin, whose office has led the federal probe into corruption in the junior college system, said prosecutors don't think Schmitz should get the paychecks.

"That is why we will seek forfeiture of all proceeds, including the 'back pay' ordered as a result of an administratively improper termination process," Martin said in an e-mail.

"The employment issue does not impact the validity of her conviction," she wrote.

Montgomery attorney William Patty, who is representing Schmitz in the wrongful termination case, did not return calls for comment.

The former high school teacher was hired in February 2003 by the Community Intensive Training for Youth program, which receives federal and state funds, and remained employed there until she was fired in October 2006.

Her conviction on seven of eight counts immediately removed the 63-year-old Democrat from her seat in the Alabama House. She faces a maximum of 20 years in prison and a fine of $250,000 for each of three counts of mail fraud and up to 10 years in prison and a maximum fine of $250,000 for each of four counts of fraud involving a program receiving federal funds.

Her first trial ended in September with the jury unable to reach a unanimous verdict.
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Title Annotation:tracking trends
Publication:Community College Week
Date:Mar 23, 2009
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