Summit Middle School teacher pleads guilty to misdemeanor forgery charge in exchange for felony theft charge dismissal

Former Summit Middle School Teacher Mark Koob pleaded guilty, Monday, to a misdemeanor charge of second degree forgery after he admitted to submitting falsified teaching certificates to the Summit School District in August.

A felony theft charge originally filed against Koob, which was in connection to the alleged $5,377 in additional pay he received from the district, was dismissed as part of his plea agreement.

Koob was ordered to perform 100 hours of community service and will be on supervised probation for one year as part of a deferred judgment.

According to the original plea agreement, Koob would have performed 75 hours of community service, but 5th Judicial District Chief Judge Terry Ruckriegle said the punishment was “pretty lenient” and upped it to 100 hours. Ruckreigle considered the possibility of sentencing Koob to jail time, possibly 60 days, at the Summit County Jail, but ultimately decided not to impose any term of incarceration.

Ruckriegle noted that a second degree forgery charge carries a possible jail sentence of up to 18 months incarcerated while discussing his reasoning for sentencing, saying jail time wouldn’t be unreasonable in this case.

“I hope you understand why I’m concerned there aren’t more severe consequences,” he said.

Judge Ruckriegle said he was sure members of the community with children in the school district would be concerned about any leniency provided by the judicial system. He also noted that Koob was in a taxpayer-funded position when he committed forgery.

Restitution for Koob’s additional pay was handled out of court, defense attorney Charles Kaiser said. The school district removed the money from his final paycheck as part of a separation agreement, Kaiser noted.

Nobody from the school district was in the courtroom to comment, which caused Ruckriegle to ask the representative for the 5th Judicial District Attorney’s Office if the school was notified about the hearing and the possibility for immediate sentencing, which was recommended by the prosecutor.

The prosecutor confirmed with Judge Ruckriegle that the punishment is compliant with the Crime Victim Rights Act before defending the terms of the plea agreement.

The prosecutor at the hearing said she considered the original plea agreement reasonable, noting that the school district never submitted anything advocating for jail time. The expense of flying out-of-state witnesses in order to prove the felony theft charge beyond a reasonable doubt also factored into the attorney’s office decision. She noted Koob had no prior criminal history and that Koob had already been impacted by the loss of his job and returned pay.

Koob has not lost his teaching license.

“I feel bad about my actions,” Koob said regarding the forgery guilty plea. “ … Not being able to teach is a pretty difficult thing for me.”

“His life’s been turned upside down by this,” Kaiser added at the hearing. He also said Koob was currently dealing with a separate “family situation” during the time of the incident involving civil proceedings.

The original charges of felony theft and misdemeanor forgery were filed after a staff member at the school district notified authorities that Koob submitted falsified certifications for training he did not attend or complete. Because of these false certifications, Koob received about $5,377 in additional pay, according to the report released by the 5th Judicial District Attorney’s Office.

According to the terms of the plea agreement, Koob is not eligible to make an appeal on this case.

Ruckriegle noted that Koob is ordered to successfully complete his community service, refrain from drinking alcohol in excess and avoid breaking any laws during his probation period or else his case will return to the courtroom for alternative sentencing.

“I hope you can return to being a law-abiding citizen,“ Ruckriegle said to Koob at the conclusion of the hearing.

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