LOUISVILLE, Ky -- The former owner of a Louisville day care will spend 10 years behind bars.
Lavonia Lewars stood before the judge and gave a tearful apology, hoping he would show her some mercy, while her attorney fought for probation.
But the judge didn't buy it.
It was the first time Lewars has apologized since she was indicted last year on charges that she stole hundreds of thousands of dollars in tax money intended to pay for daycare for underprivileged families.
“I'm very sorry for what I did. I accept full responsibility,” Lewars said, choking back tears.
The one and only apology she gave lasted only 17 seconds.
Lewars already pleaded guilty in February to stealing more than $200,000 from taxpayers by overbilling the state while operating Heavenly Angels Daycare Center.
At one time, she admitted billing for more than 100 children, while she was licensed to care for fewer than 40.
She brought in $125,000 a month at one point and admitted gambling much of that money away.
Today her attorney tried his best to keep her out of prison.
“She's a very good candidate for probation in this matter. She would do well. She would comply with all conditions of probation,” said Dave Schuler.
Lewars made a final plea for mercy.
“I just beg you give me another chance to prove myself. I know what i did was wrong and I do apologize for wasting everyone's time. But I'm sincerely sorry for what I did,” Lewars said.
“I was here the day you pled guilty,” said Jefferson County Circuit Court Judge Barry Willet. “I don't think you understand yet. I don't think you've accepted responsibility. I don't think you are remorseful. I think you deserve to go to the penitentiary for 10 years and that's where's I'm going to send you.”
“She might have come to the realization that she committed the crime, but she'll have some time to think about it,” said Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney John Balenovich.
Lewars will be eligible to file for shock probation after serving 30 days in prison, but the Commonwealth's Attorney’s Office will oppose it.
She will have to pay more than $200,000 in restitution after her release.