For decades, little people's place in downtown Rockford was a place where hundreds of young kids could play, learn and develop. But three years ago that safe haven was taken away, when the center's director was busted for embezzling thousands of dollars. On Tuesday, that woman's sentence hearing got underway.
Co-workers and who those know Lynn Montgomery say they never saw it coming, describing her as a hard working employee and loving mother. But while things seemed fine, that was not the case at all.
Montgomery was stealing thousands of dollars from the place she worked.
Montgomery pleaded guilty this July to stealing between $10,000 and $100,000 at little people's place. Tuesday's sentence hearing lasted more than an hour. It will reconvene on Wednesday. The center not only took care of kids for 32 years, but it also provided low income families affordable day care. A co-worker who took the stand said because of Montgomery’s actions alone, little people's place no longer exists.
"People when we had to close, they didn't get their last paychecks, they didn't get vacation, they didn't get sick time, they didn't get personal time re-imbursed. We had one week to find placement for everybody. Teachers were uprooted, everything was changed in a matter of moments and we'll never get that back," Kim Maxwell said.
Following the embezzlement allegations, little people's place closed in April 2003. Montgomery was director of the center from 1998 to 2002.