ANN ARBOR, MI — Originally sentenced to six months in jail, a former Dexter Community Schools IT director who stole from the district will instead serve time on house arrest with a tether following a re-sentencing hearing on Monday, June 20.
Washtenaw County Trial Court Judge David S. Swartz ruled Monday to change the terms of the sentence he initially issued for Brian Scott Tungl on May 23. Tungl, 46, of Mount Morris, pleaded no contest on May 10 to a charge of embezzling more than $50,000 and less than $100,000 worth of technology equipment from the school district, and two other charges against him were dismissed in the plea agreement.
School officials say Tungl stole more than $300,000 worth of technology equipment like laptops and iPads from DCS starting when he was hired in 2011. He deleted the district’s inventory list before he resigned late in 2014, and police began investigating him in February 2015.
The embezzlement charge carries a penalty of up to 15 years in prison or a fine of $25,000 or three times the value of the money or property embezzled, whichever is greater. The penalty also could include both imprisonment and a fine.
Swartz initially sentenced Tungl to six months in jail and two years on probation, plus required Tungl to complete 500 hours of community service and pay restitution. A hearing to determine the amount of restitution has not yet been set, and the school district wants Tungl to pay $426,000.
Tungl’s attorney Todd F. Flood requested the sentence be reconsidered based on two factors: he didn’t think Tungl’s level of remorse had been sufficiently communicated at the initial sentencing and he didn’t think the “serious nature of Mr. Tungl’s ongoing health issues that will require immediate medical attention that cannot be addressed in the Washtenaw County Jail” was properly conveyed in the presentence investigation report.
Tungl underwent multiple surgeries related to hip injuries from November 2015 to February 2016, and he still suffers back pain, ulnar nerve pain and pain in his hip and leg related to those injuries and other health complications, Flood said. In his brief requesting the re-sentencing, Flood presented doctors’ recommendations saying Tungl needs physical therapy for his hip or he will lose his mobility, and he pointed out the jail can only treat Tungl’s pain with Tylenol, which is not sufficient.
Tungl began physical therapy on May 23, the same day as his initial sentencing.
“In short, then, Mr. Tungl is at a crucial point in his ability to regain movement, flexibility and overall function of his hip,” Flood wrote in his brief, filed June 3. “He was unable to engage in meaningful physical therapy until May 23, 2016, because of ongoing medical problems.”
Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Paul M. Barnett responded to Flood’s brief on June 16, saying the original sentence was valid.
“The defendant’s medical condition and whatever level of remorse he may feel were both facts readily available at the time of sentencing and cannot be the basis to ‘resentence’ the defendant,” Barnett wrote in his response.
Swartz agreed with Flood’s stance and changed Tungl’s sentence from six months in jail to six months of home arrest with a tether. He is permitted to leave his house only for medical appointments.
Michael Wendorf, president of the Dexter Community Schools board of education, said he was frustrated and disappointed by the turn of events. He attended Monday’s re-sentencing hearing with three other representatives from the school district.
“[Tungl] has yet to express any remorse … and his lack of remorse was one of the factors that was cited by Judge Swartz in his sentencing,” Wendorf said at a school board meeting Monday. “It’s a very lenient sentence for a man who committed serious crimes against the children and the people of this district.”
Wendorf, a former federal prosecutor, planned to contact the Washtenaw County prosecutor’s office Tuesday to discuss what he considered poor handling of the case.
Lauren Slagter covers K-12 education for The Ann Arbor News. Contact her at 734-255-1419, email@example.com or on Twitter @LaurenSlagter.