A Wytheville woman went from case worker to convict on Wednesday after admitting to embezzling more than $10,000 from a social services program that’s supposed to help keep kids out of foster care.

Indicted in July, 42-year-old Patricia Lynn Compton pleaded guilty to a single felony charge during a short hearing in Wythe County Circuit Court.

According to interim Commonwealth’s Attorney David Saliba, Compton was working with the Wythe County Department of Social Services when she took the money.

He said the newly developed program gave her access to a debit card, which she used from September 2017 until March 2018 to buy personal items.

Saliba said Compton cooperated with investigators and showed them which purchases were hers.

As part of a plea agreement, Compton was given a suspended prison sentence and placed on probation for two years. She also paid back all of the stolen money -- $10,833.52 – on Wednesday.

The charge carried a maximum punishment of 10 years in prison and a $100,000 fine.

Compton, who told a judge on Wednesday that she had a bachelor’s degree when he asked her about her education, had no criminal record before her arrest.

Her indictment followed a shakeup at the Wythe County agency earlier this year. In May, DSS Director Lewis Lafon voluntarily resigned after being out on leave for unspecified reasons.

His replacement, Kim Ayers, attended Wednesday’s hearing.

Jeffrey Simmons can be reached at 228-6611, extension 19, or jsimmons@wythenews.com.

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