Charlotte Catholic's Jerry Healy Sentenced To 3 Months In Halfway House In Embezzlement Case
Ignoring a joint plea for probation, a federal judge sentenced former longtime Charlotte Catholic High principal Jerry Healy to three months in a halfway house Tuesday for embezzling more than $160,000 from the school and a related foundation.
U.S. District Judge Frank Whitney overruled recommendations from both the prosecution and defense for leniency, and said the longtime Catholic educator was a role model who had violated his public trust by taking the money over a period of years and not as part of a one-time mistake.
While Healy didn’t deserve to go to federal prison, neither did he deserve to go free, Whitney said. He also ordered Healy, 68, to pay restitution to the Charlotte Catholic Foundation and the Diocese of Charlotte.
Last year, Healy pleaded guilty to one count of possession or use of counterfeited securities, a felony punishable by a maximum 10 years in prison.
In what Whitney described as a first-ever occurrence in his court, both the prosecution and defense argued for probation, saying Healy had already suffered enough by losing his career and good name and being summarily banished from the Charlotte Catholic community.
Whitney said that was not enough.
While crediting Healy with a lifetime of “extraordinary good deeds,” he said Healy was also a role model. “Role models are supposed to lead by example, and in this area, you certainly did not.”
Whitney said he had a responsibility to send a message to other role models that “You can’t embezzle. A strictly probationary sentence is not appropriate.”
Healy resigned as Charlotte Catholic’s principal in May 2014 after 11 years in the job and 44 years with the diocese. He has been almost universally lauded as a generous and charismatic leader who changed his students’ lives.
But federal prosecutors say that for a seven-year period ending shortly before his resignation, Healy raided the foundation accounts for his personal use. Sometimes he wrote the checks. Sometimes he had an assistant write them for him. In some cases, he forged the assistant’s signature, the documents say. The checks were drawn on Bank of America accounts for the school and the school’s foundation.
Healy continues to draw significant support from many still connected to his former school. During his sentencing, some 15 former students, friends and family members sat behind him. Several wept as the hearing unfolded.
At times, Healy joined them.
It’s unclear when his sentence will begin. Healy left the courthouse without comment, and walked across West Trade Street with attorneys Missy Owen and Bob McDonnell to a waiting car.