Former day care owner sentenced to 10 years in prison
Lavonia Lewars was sentenced to 10 years in prison on Tuesday.
Judge Barry Willett
LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - She admitted to stealing more
than $200,000 from the state through her now closed day care. Tuesday, Lavonia
Lewars was sent to prison for the crime.
Lewars closed Heavenly Angels after 14 of her children
were injured and one of her employees was killed when their van crashed on
Algonquin Parkway in June 2012. She was already under investigation by the
state at that time.
Tuesday Lewars got emotional before Judge Barry Willett
asking for probation instead of jail. In tears, she said "I would like to say
I'm so very sorry for what I did. I accept full responsibility. I just beg you
give me another chance to prove myself. I know what I did was wrong and I do
apologize for wasting everyone's time, but I'm sincerely sorry for what I did."
Judge Willett didn't think Lewars, 43, was sincere and
sentenced her to 10 years in prison. "I don't think you understand yet. I don't
think you've accepted responsibility. I don't think you are remorseful."
Lewars is also required to pay back all the money she
stole. "She created a scam where she would only have capacity for 40 kids, but
she was charging over 120," explained Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney John Balenovich.
Her attorney, David Schuler, said she will pay back all
$200,000, but he was concerned she's being used as an example. "What I hope we
can avoid today, and in her case, is Lavonia being punished for the ills or
problems of others or for a system that is clearly in need of some revision."
In March, the state pulled licenses from 18 Louisville
day cares accusing them of similar schemes. The state said Lewars case has
nothing to do with the others and they are investigating each issue.
In this case, Balenovich said Lewars needed to pay for
what she took.
Several lawsuits filed against Lewars by the families of
the injured children from that van wreck last year are still pending. No
criminal charges will be filed in that case.
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725 S. Floyd Street
Louisville, KY 40203