Jail time for woman who stole thousands from Cleveland Beer Week

October 5, 2018

Jail time for woman who stole thousands from Cleveland Beer Week

CLEVELAND, Ohio -- The former program director of Cleveland Beer Week will spend time in jail after she pleaded guilty to stealing tens of thousands of dollars in charitable donations from the organization.

Christine Montague, 50, of Fairview Park, served as the program’s director since 2009. She was sentenced Wednesday to six months in the Cuyahoga County Jail, though Common Pleas Court Judge Kathleen Sutula said she would consider releasing her sooner, Sutula’s bailiff, Rose Bennett, said.

Sutula also ordered Montague to repay the organization $20,000 and placed her on probation for five years once she’s released from jail, records show.

Montague pleaded guilty last month to aggravated theft, a fifth-degree felony.

She earned a $10,000 yearly salary to serve as the program’s director and the public face of the event giving interviews to media outlets to promote Cleveland Beer Week, which features special events and fundraisers at restaurants around Northeast Ohio promoting specialty beers and menus.

Proceeds from the week’s flagship events are donated to the Malone Foundation scholarship

In a September 2015 interview with cleveland.com’s Marc Bona, Montague said Cleveland Beer Week flagship events had raised about $150,000 in the past, adding: “hopefully we’ll hit $200,000 this year -- that’s our goal.”

But instead of sending all of the money to the scholarship fund, Bedford Heights police found that Montague had funneled more than $40,000 to herself between January 2014 and January 2016, according to court records.

She was arrested in August 2016.

The 2018 Cleveland Beer Week is set to kickoff Oct. 12.

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