The former Montgomery County Public Schools transportation director was sentenced this week to 200 hours of community service and three years’ probation for misconduct in office related to hundreds of thousands of misspent dollars, according to the Montgomery County State’s Attorney’s Office.
Todd Watkins was the second former transportation official sentenced this month after former Assistant Director Charles Edwald was sentenced to prison for stealing $320,000 from the department.
From around 2016-2021, Watkins served in his role and “failed to properly manage the contract for the purchases of school buses and the use of purchasing cards in his department such that [Ewald] …was able to steal over $320,000,” the State’s Attorney’s Office said.
Watkins, 56, of Jefferson, Maryland pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of misconduct in office on June 30. Montgomery County Circuit Court Judge Michael McAuliffe granted the defense’s request for probation before judgment, the state’s attorney’s office said.
Watkins was fired by MCPS in February 2021 and has been under investigation alongside Ewald.
McAuliffe on Sept. 6 sentenced Ewald, 37, of Knoxville, Maryland, to five years in prison for charges of a felony theft scheme having a value of over $100,000 and misconduct in office.
Ewald was placed on administrative leave in November 2021 and ultimately fired from his position in February 2022 as the result of an investigation by the Office of the Inspector General conducted in collaboration with police.
The State’s Attorney’s Office said that Ewald “committed one of the worst financial crimes to ever victimize Montgomery County Public Schools.”
Watkins’ attorney, Terrence McGann from the Rockville firm McGann Hughes, told MoCo on the phone Thursday that he appreciates that McAuliffe recognized that Watkins did not financially benefit from the misconduct that occurred in his office and that his case was very different from Ewald’s.
“We’re very grateful to the judge for withholding the criminal conviction from his record,” Hughes said.
He said that his client “did not take one penny of county money,” and his only mistake was a “failure to properly supervise his assistant director.”
Watkins received over $13,000 from American Truck & Bus using an “off-the-books” account and investigators questioned whether he violated the district’s reimbursement policy, but he provided documentation for the payment and was not charged with theft, according to court records.
“Every penny of the $13,000 was verified by Montgomery County Police to be legitimate department expenses,” McGann said.
A spokesperson for MCPS did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment Thursday afternoon.