3:21 PM

A former municipal clerk who stole over one million dollars from the Springfield Municipal Court died in the Chillicothe prison last night.

Rhonda Bateman of Rogersville was sentenced to 10-years in prison term after pleading guilty to one count of stealing in July 2007.

Bateman complained of a headache while she was conducting a Bible study class last night (0824-09) and collapsed. The Missouri Department of Corrections says an autopsy will be performed in Kansas City to determine the cause of her death.

Bateman was a longtime employee in the Springfield Municipal Court until she was fired in June 2006 after city police started investigating missing funds. A grand jury indicted Bateman in September 2006 on three counts of stealing more than $25,000.

Investigators say Bateman started siphoning money from the court system in 1999 and took lavish vacations, had box season tickets for the Cardinals in addition to concerts and gifts for her family and friends.

Prosecutors didn't charge Bateman with the million dollar theft because the statute of limitations had run out, however, Bateman admitted stealing around $200,000.

Greene County prosecutors dismissed two of the charges in a plea deal with Bateman, and because Greene County Circuit Judge Calvin Holden followed prosecutors recommendation and sentenced her to ten years, he could not order her to make restitution.

The city of Springfield sued Bateman and her husband, Dennis, last November, seeking restitution of $1.2 million. That lawsuit was served to Rhonda Bateman in prison.
UPDATE 09-03-09:
The attorney for the city of Springfield says that the lawsuit that was filed on behalf of the city last November to try and recoup funds that Bateman stole will proceed.
Dan Wichmer says that depositions were being scheduled in the case at the time of Bateman's death, and that there have been motions filed to determine the mental competency of Dennis Bateman, who suffered a stroke last year.
No official cause of death has been released in Bateman's death. Officials with the Department of Corrections says that could take up to two months.