Jennifer Ihns, the former administrator for the Clinical Law Center at the University of Notre Dame Law School, will spend two years in the Indiana Department of Correction for embezzling nearly $200,000 from the clinic.
Ihns, 45, who pleaded guilty to 11 felonies, including theft and forgery, was sentenced to seven years May 25 by St. Joseph Superior Judge Jeffrey Sanford. In addition to the two years incarcerated, five years were suspended to non-reporting probation. She has also been ordered to pay restitution of $199,000 to the university.
In a statement, the University of Notre Dame said, “The criminal justice system has addressed this matter appropriately. Thankfully, there were no adverse consequences for our clients or the center itself.”
Ihns’ attorney, Stanley Wruble, did not return a call seeking comment.
Between January 2009 and June 2016, Ihns conducted more than 200 thefts to enrich herself and more than 95 forgeries to hide her thefts, according to court documents. She wrote and cashed for her benefit 129 unauthorized checks from the clinic’s operation accounting totaling $82,275.23, and 126 checks from the clinic’s Interest on Lawyer Trust Account (IOLTA) totaling $96,300.80.
Ihns started at the legal clinic as a paralegal and office coordinator. Her duties included signatory authority over all the clinic’s bank accounts.
An internal audit in mid-June 2016 by the university discovered evidence of improper handling of clinic funds, court documents stated. Ihns initially denied any wrongdoing, but when confronted with altered checks, she replied, “I did it,” and said all the money was gone.
The audit did not find any evidence of clients suffering financial loss, according to court documents. However, the university paid those clinic clients the amount that appeared appropriate to ensure they were not harmed by Ihns’ conduct.