The former music teacher convicted of scamming her students and their parents out of thousands of dollars for a trip to Disney World that was never booked has been sentenced to prison.
34-year-old Stacia Keener of Gering was sentenced to 4 to 8 years on two Class IIA Felony Theft by Deception (More than $5,000) charges. She was also sentenced to one year in prison on five misdemeanor Theft by Deception charges. All seven counts will run concurrently.
Keener, whose music studio was in Scottsbluff, also agreed to pay more than $29,000 in restitution to the families she stole from.
Once she is released from prison, her sentence for stealing roughly $250,000 from her grandfather will begin. Keener was sentenced to five years of probation in that case, and restitution was not sought.
Keener was arrested back in April after her grandfather reported the missing funds. An investigation revealed that over a four year period, she had conjured up stories about financial trouble, and asked her grandfather to help her out.
Throughout the course of the investigation, it was revealed that that Keener had taken several vacations to Hawaii, Disney Land, Disney World, and a two-and-a-half week trip to Europe. Court documents say that she told her family that she was working for a company in Georgia setting up conferences and the company was compensating her with paid vacations.
In May, families who had their students take music lessons at her business- “Stacia’s Studio”- came forth and said they were duped by her for a trip to Disney World that was never booked. Court documents say that Keener insisted families paid in full for the trip in advance, but instead cashed the checks for herself.
One 13-year-old student raised $1,800 by herself to pay her own way to the trip. Court documents say the young girl made crafts and dog treats and sold them on her own. Her parent says she’s especially upset because she had to turn down a trip to Peru through Scottsbluff Public Schools because she already had the Disney trip planned.
During sentencing, District Judge Leo Dobrovolny noted that Keener used a number of means of deception to gain money, and said she knew how to manipulate people.
Dobrovolny added that her actions do cause serious harm, including the loss in trust that the victims suffered as well as the financial loss.
Keener publicly apologized for her actions, saying she is truly sorry and regrets her actions every day.
She also said she wants to begin the restitution process as soon as possible to pay back her former students and their families.
Keener received 163 days credit towards her sentence for time already served in jail, and if she loses no good time, she would be eligible for parole in March of 2019.