Former Ralston chamber employee sentenced for embezzling more than $40,000

An Omaha woman had been charged with writing bad checks a month before she was hired to work for the Ralston Chamber of Commerce in 2017.

She then wrote bad checks to herself over the next nine months — this time using the chamber’s checkbook to steal $41,286 from the organization.

For that, Douglas County District Judge Greg Schatz sentenced Michelle I. McElligott, 43, on Tuesday to five years of probation.

McElligott’s attorney, Teri Vukonich-Mikkelsen, told the judge that McElligott has paid restitution to both the chamber and the insurance company that reimbursed the theft.

Vukonich-Mikkelsen said McElligott, who was fired from the chamber, is remorseful and is undergoing counseling to determine “the underlying reason she did this.”

According to court records, McElligott wrote more than 60 three-figure checks to herself in 2017 and 2018 without the permission of the chamber’s president, Amy Roeder. The scheme was uncovered when Great Western Bank officials notified Roeder that the chamber’s account was near $1,000 — an unusually low sum.

Chamber officials have said the organization did not complete a background check before hiring McElligott and did not know about the misdemeanors she faced at the time. All prospective employees now go through background checks, Roeder has said.

McElligott told the judge she regretted her actions.

“I just want to say that I am very sorry,” she said. “I would like the chance to prove that I am a good person and can make a contribution to (society).”