- Associated Press - Monday, January 15, 2018

MADISON, W.Va. (AP) - At least three people wrote letters in support of a former West Virginia school system employee who was released from jail when a judge changed his sentence for embezzlement.

The Charleston Gazette-Mail reports former Boone County School system employees David Bryan Jarrell and Tracy Lee Harvey were released from jail last week.

Both men were sentenced originally to one to 10 years in prison, but Circuit Judge William Thompson changed their sentences to five years of probation.

Jarrell is a former transportation director for Boone County’s school system and Harvey formerly was a bus mechanic and purchasing agent.

They were accused of using county funds to buy tires and other automotive-related items. State police said the embezzlement involved tens of thousands of dollars.

Thompson heard apologies from both men at their sentencing hearing last October.

Thompson said during the hearing that Harvey’s apology seemed sincere. But he seemed unsure about Jarrell’s response.

Community members reached out to the judge on behalf of Jarrell.

One man, Eddie Weikle, said in his letter that Jarrell feels deep remorse for his crime.

Weikle is a former director of pupil services for the county’s school system, his letter states.

He became Jarrell’s friend and colleague 30 years ago. After Jarrell admitted to embezzlement, Weikle said he experienced the five stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance.

“I admit that I was and still am very angry and disappointed with Bryan,” Weikle wrote, referring to Jarrell by his middle name.

After police arrested Jarrell, he began to visit Weikle’s house. Sometimes the men had lengthy conversations, and other times they sat in silence.

Sometimes the meetings led to “heartfelt tears between two friends,” the letter said.

“I truly believe he is completely drained physically and emotionally with remorse,” Weikle wrote.

J.D. Fairchild used his own letter to express sympathy for Jarrell.

“We worked together for 25 years as assistant coaches,” Fairchild wrote. “He was also my assistant when I was head football coach.”

He said Jarrell is a loyal father who regrets hurting both Boone County students and his own family, especially his children.

“Please do not assume he is not sorry because of the outward appearance he projects,” Fairchild wrote. “Knowing Bryan for as long as I have, I believe he is just a man who has been through a massive amount of things to deal with and has shut down all emotions.”

A Boone County pastor also joined the conversation when he vouched for Jarrell

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