Guard member sentenced for forgery

A Missouri National Guard member facing a Cole County trial on a felony forgery charge pleaded guilty Wednesday to a lesser charge.

Melissa Ireland, 39, Henley, pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of stealing and was placed on two years unsupervised probation.

Ireland had been charged with forgery, a Class C felony that could have resulted in up to seven years in prison, if she had been convicted in the trial that was scheduled to begin next week.

She was indicted by the Cole County grand jury in November 2011 for a crime committed in November 2007.

Authorities said Ireland forged a signature to get a $3,000 grant from the state’s Military Family Relief Fund, an emergency relief fund for military members that she managed.

The grand jury charged that Ireland “completed and authenticated” a check that was written to a fellow Guard member, and appeared to have been written by someone else without that person’s permission.

Maj. Tammy Spicer, the Missouri National Guard’s chief information officer, said Wednesday that Ireland remains a Guard member, but no longer is in charge of the relief fund.

Spicer declined to say whether Ireland’s conviction will result in any disciplinary issues with the Guard, saying it was a “personnel matter.”

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