Former board member pleads guilty to embezzling funds from Carter County drug court

Sierra Rains
The Daily Ardmoreite
The Carter County courthouse. A former Carter County drug court board member plead guilty to a charge for embezzlement on Aug. 3.

A former 20th District Drug Court board member pled guilty to a charge for embezzlement this week. 

Amber Dawn Chavez, 40, of Ardmore, received a sentence of three years deferred, which will allow her to avoid any jail time should she abide by the rules of her probation. The sentence and guilty plea could also be cleared from her record after the three year probationary period. 

During the probationary period, Chavez will be required to complete 75 hours of community service and will be under 18 months of supervision. Chavez is also being required to pay a $1,000 fine in addition to restitution for the embezzlement from the drug court, which amounts to $2,215. 

“The plea agreement Ms. Chavez entered did not include any jail time and allowed Ms. Chavez to avoid being convicted of any offense. Jury trials are always unpredictable and with the pandemic, it would likely be next year before we could have even convened a jury,” said Jason May, Chavez’s attorney. “Considering those factors, we decided that a plea agreement was in Ms. Chavez’s best interests.” 

The Ardmore Police Department began investigating reports of embezzlement at the 20th District Drug Court in Carter County on July 3, 2019. APD Capt. Keith Ingle told The Ardmoreite in Aug. 2019 some oddities were discovered through accounting services and police found that there was wrongdoing. 

Once the investigation was completed, the department found enough probable cause to submit charges against Chavez in August. Court documents state that Chavez fraudulently appropriated more than $1,000 from the drug court through the use of several bogus and forged checks written on the 20th District Drug Court’s account from March 2019 to May 2019. 

Access to the drug court’s account had been entrusted to her through her capacity as a board member. Ardmore police suspected Chavez had been using the funds for personal gain. Chavez was removed from her position on the drug court board following the allegations.