Sentencing for Palmyra woman accused of stealing from charity continued for third time

Ronda Oswalt
Posted: Jan. 7, 2013 4:48 pm Updated: Jan. 22, 2013 10:15 am

Herald-Whig Staff Writer

HANNIBAL, Mo. -- A Palmyra woman who pleaded guilty to stealing from a Hannibal-based charity had her sentencing hearing continued for a third time Monday afternoon.

Ronda Oswalt's attorney, J. Kevin Hamlett, told Judge Rachel Bringer Shepherd that Oswalt had hoped to post $15,000 in restitution before the hearing, but the person buying her house didn't have all of the necessary paperwork completed for the sale. As a result, Oswalt did not have the money in her possession.

The sentencing has been rescheduled for 1 p.m. on Jan. 22 at the Marion County Courthouse in Hannibal.

Marion County Prosecuting Attorney Tom Redington tried to lobby Bringer Shepherd to conclude the sentencing portion on Monday, but Bringer Shepherd didn't agree.

"I don't want to sentence Ms. Oswalt until the money is in the hands of someone in the court system," Bringer Shepherd said. "If the restitution money is not paid up front, the plea agreement will not be accepted."

Oswalt, 47, accepted a plea deal just before her trial was supposed to start in December in Monroe County. She admitted to stealing $54,000 from the Blue Ryno Foundation while she was working as an event coordinator. In exchange for her guilty plea on the three Class C felony theft counts, Oswalt would be sentenced to five years in the Missouri Department of Corrections on each count, with the sentences to run consecutively. However, the sentence would be suspended if she made restitution.

Oswalt owes $1,000 on the first count, $2,000 on the second count and $51,000 on the third count.

Hamlett told Bringer Shepherd that Oswalt should receive money for the sale of her house by the end of this week. He will turn over the money to Redington, who will then forward it to the victim. The Blue Ryno Foundation was founded by former Major League Baseball player Ryan Klesko to help critically ill children and their families. Klesko has not appeared at any of the court hearings. Redington has a victim's impact statement from Klesko that he will read once Oswalt makes her restitution.

Oswalt was arrested in August 2011.