Former Benton Harbor Area Schools Superintendent Leonard Seawood has been sentenced to 90 days in jail and five years of probation in his embezzlement case. Seawood was accused of stealing more than $40,000 from the district by taking payouts for unused vacation days.
The trial late last year included testimony from several current and former school board officials, along with Seawood himself. He maintained he received authorization for the vacation payouts. School board officials said Seawood was not straightforward about it. He was fired from the district last year following a lengthy suspension and investigation by Michigan State Police.
At Seawood’s sentencing on Wednesday, Berrien County Judge Donna Howard said she understood he had worked hard for the district, but he should have taken a moment to have the humility to speak honestly with school board members. She told him he had lost his way and forgot to be humble. Seawood said it was never his intent to bring any shame or dishonor to the district.
Seawood is appealing, but the judge denied a request that his sentence be stayed pending the appeal. He was led from the courtroom in handcuffs. In addition to the jail time and probation, he will have to pay $46,000 to the school district.