Thursday, March 7, 2019

Ex-school administrator charged with embezzlement

The former administrator of Cimarron Montessori School was charged Monday with three felony counts of embezzlement accusing her of taking more than $25,000 from the school over a six-year period, records show.
Deborah Cribley, 45, appeared Tuesday morning before Special District Judge Brian Lovell with her attorney Steve Cameron, online court records show. Cribley posted a $1,000 bond and will appear Thursday for arraignment of the charges.
One of the charges accuses Cribley of taking more than $25,000 from the school between January 2012 and March 2018. She faces up to 10 years in prison, a fine of up to $10,000 and restitution on that embezzlement charge. She faces up to five years in prison, a fine of up to $5,000 and restitution on the other two charges, accusing her of taking more than $1,000 from one of the school's bank accounts and the school's Walmart credit card, records show.
On April 17, 2018, police met with Deborah Wilczek and Tara Ramos, two members of the board of trustees for Cimarron Montessori School.
Wilczek told Detective Brad Pritchett in November 2017 the school was in a financial bind, according to an affidavit filed in the case. She said she for the first time the school may not be able to make payroll. She said the board began working with Cribley to go over the financials.
Wilczek said in February 2018, the board found several discrepancies in the financials that were not explainable, according to the affidavit. She said at a March 2018 board meeting members asked Cribley for the school's bank statements to see what was happening.
Obvious discrepancies
On April 2, 2018, the board met to review the financial documents from August 2017 to March 2018. Wilczek said there were obvious discrepancies, according to the affidavit. Wilczek said the board met with Cribley and told her she could resign or they would terminate her.
Wilczek told police since April 2, 2018, the board began to look into the financials for Cimarron Montessori. She said when the statement for the school's Walmart card arrived, they noticed charges for makeup, self tanner and other items purchased that were not for the school, according to the affidavit. Ramos said while reviewing the school's Central National Bank and Alva State Bank & Trust documents, they found where Cribley was paying her personal Dillard's credit card with school funds, according to the affidavit.
Ramos said when they confronted Cribley about this, she claimed in her role as an administrator one of her jobs was to buy future silent auction items, according to the affidavit. Ramos said Cribley said she was buying the items on clearance. Wilczek and Ramos told police the only documentation they had ever seen as a board in relation to finances had come from a QuickBooks program.
The women told police there was only one debit card for the CNB account and only one Walmart card, according to the affidavit. They said Cribley was the only one to have those cards.
On April 19, 2018, Pritchett met with Cribley, her husband, Kenny Cribley, and Cameron, her attorney, records show.
Pritchett asked Cribley to tell him about her position as administrator and why she left the school, according to the affidavit. Cribley said at a March 26, 2018, board meeting it was discussed that a teacher might have to be laid off because of the school's financial situation. She said the board requested she get all of the financial documents together so the board could review them. She said she gave the board the documents March 30, 2018.
Cribley said a meeting was held April 2, 2018, and the board asked her about a couple of transactions she did not have receipts for, according to the affidavit. Cribley said after the meeting she was given the option to resign from her position or she would be fired. Cribley said she opted to resign.
When asked by Pritchett, Cribley confirmed she was responsible for Cimarron Montessori's bank accounts, according to the affidavit. Pritchett asked if anyone assisted her with those duties. Cribley said the only time anyone else was involved was when a teacher would buy something for the school on their personal bank account, then she would reimburse the teacher. She said she was the only one with control over the school's bank accounts.
Cribley said the school has three accounts: an operating account through CNB, a fundraising account through Alva State Bank and a money market account at Security National Bank, according to the affidavit. Cribley said there was a debit card and credit card kept in a lock box in her office. When asked who had access to the cards, Cribley said, "Just myself."
Pritchett told Cribley one of the accusations from the board was she was misusing the school's debit and credit card. He asked if she had ever misused or purchased any personal items for herself on either card, according to the affidavit. Cribley said as far as misuse of the cards, she replied, "No, sir." He asked Cribley if she ever purchased personal items with the cards. Cribley said if she purchased any personal items with the cards, she would reimburse the school by making a deposit in the school's bank account.
Cribley said the school board allowed her to make purchases of personal items on the school's debit and credit card as long as she reimbursed the school for the charges, according to the affidavit. Pritchett asked Cribley if she ever purchased personal items on the school's cards. She said she was sure there times she had done this, but she could not recall.
Cribley said she was confronted by the board about using the cards for personal use, according to the affidavit. She said she told the board she could go through all the receipts, but the board would not give her access to them.
Pritchett told Cribley he had some Cimarron Montessori Walmart credit card statements he wanted to go over with her. He showed Cribley a charge for Rotel Diced Tomatoes, and Cribley said it might have been purchased for a fundraiser, according to the affidavit. He showed her charges for barbecue pizza, Totino's Pizza, Little Smokies and grilled chicken breast. Cribley said those items might have been food they were keeping at the refrigerator at the school.
When shown a charge for Axe body spray, Cribley said, "I have no idea," according to the affidavit. She was shown a charge for diced onions and cut okra, and Cribley said it was for the lunch program. When shown a charge to tanning lotion, Cribley again said, "I have no idea."
Pritchett showed Cribley a charge for an Apple TV for $159. Cribley said that was probably a personal purchase, according to the affidavit.
Pritchett asked Cribley how often she would use the Walmart card for personal use, according to the affidavit. Cribley said she kept track of her personal purchases. She said when the Walmart bill would come in, she would write a personal check for her part of the bill. She said if she did not send a personal check with the bill, she would write one to the school.
Cameron asked Cribley if this was a common practice since she had been employed with the school, and she stated, "Yeah," according to the affidavit. Pritchett asked Cribley if the school was aware she was using the Walmart card for her personal use, and Cribley said they should have been.
Fraudulent charges
During the investigation, Pritchett spoke with Kay Chatterji, who served as vice president and president of the Cimarron Montessori board of directors.
He asked Chatterji if it has ever been approved that the school administrator could use school funds for personal purchases, according to the affidavit. Chatterji said "no."
He told Chatterji when he spoke with Cribley, she said the board knew she was making personal purchases with school funds, according to the affidavit. He also told Chatterji that Cribley said the board allowed her to do this as long as she paid the money back by the end of the fiscal year. Chatterji said she has never heard of anything like that.
Pritchett reviewed the charges on the Walmart credit card using statements from Nov. 5, 2015, to March 3, 2018, according to the affidavit. The total amount of fraudulent charges on the Walmart card is $6,407.55.
Pritchett told Cribley he wanted to go over the school’s CNB account, providing her with a statement for January 2018, according to the affidavit. The first charge was to Chick-Fil-A for $42.12.
Cribley said she keeps a general ledger of transactions, and she advised the board of this. Pritchett asked Cribley if the board knew she was using the debit card to make personal purchases, and she said, “I don’t think they did.” Cribley said past boards knew she was doing this. She said her reimbursements for using the debit and credit cards were due by the end of the fiscal year, which was in July.
Pritchett asked Cribley how long she had been using the school’s debit and credit cards, according to the affidavit. She said is depended and said she had spent more on personal items in 2018 than she had in the past.
Pritchett asked Cribley if she ever used the Alva State Bank account for personal use. Cribley said she would have to go back through and look, according to the affidavit. Pritchett asked Cribley if she would be able to provide documentation showing the reimbursements. Cribley said, “Hopefully, I can.”
She said when she reimbursed the school she would put the money into the Alva State Bank account, according to the affidavit. Pritchett asked if the reimbursement would be a personal check from her and Cribley said, “Right.”
When asked how many personal checks she’d written the school since 2009, Cribley said she had no idea.
Pritchett asked Cribley if she ever made any personal credit card payments with school funds, and she said she had, according to the affidavit. Cribley said she had made payments on her Dillard’s credit card, JCPenney credit card and Old Navy credit card. She said the payments were from using her personal credit cards to purchase silent auction items for the school.
Review of accounts
Pritchett reviewed the SNB personal checking account for Cribley and her husband for checks written to Cimarron Montessori that were relevant to the investigation, according to the affidavit. There were five checks written listed in the affidavit.
• On Aug. 8, 2010, Cribley wrote a check to Cimarron Montessori in the amount of $3,350. The memo line of the check states, “Cash/temp loan/full repayment.”
• On Jan. 21, 2011, Cribley wrote a check to “Cash” in the amount of $960. The memo of the check states, “School reimbursement-Alva.”
• On July 20, 2011, Cribley wrote a check to Cimarron Montessori School in the amount of $700. The memo of the check states, “Repayment/deposit.”
• On July 20, 2011, Cribley wrote a check for “Cash Withdrawal” in the amount of $200. The memo states, “CMS petty cash repayment.”
• On Dec. 22, 2011, Cribley wrote a check to “Cash” in the amount of $235. The memo of the check states, “Silent Auction/Petty Cash.”
Pritchett reviewed the Cimarron Montessori School CNB account from Jan. 1, 2018, to March 31, 2018, according to the affidavit. The amount of unauthorized charges made by Cribley from the account in that time is $3,782.91.
A review of the account between Jan. 1 and Dec. 31, 2017, found Cribley wrote made a total of $20,093 charges to the account, according to the affidavit. There were also checks in the amount of $350 to JCP/Synchrony Bank and $288.95 to Uptown Florist written by Cribley from the account.
Pritchett also found a printed email for Life Touch School portraits, according to the affidavit. The email was a receipt for an order placed Oct. 11, 2017, by Cribley in the amount of $77 using the Cimarron Montessori debit card, according to the affidavit. Another email was printed out for Jostens.com for the purchase of 25 cards and 25 envelope seals. The email was a receipt for an order placed March 7, 2017, by Cribley in the amount of $62.32 using the school's debit card. The order shows the recipient as Karson Cribley, Deborah's child.
Pritchett also found a receipt for a yearbook for Cribley's child, according to the affidavit. The $78 purchase was made March 6, 2017, using the school's debit card.
Pritchett reviewed the records for the school's CNB account and found the following unauthorized charges for each year made by Cribley: 2016: $23,556.40; 2015: $21,221.92; 2014: $24,030.64; 2013: $15,536.58; and 2012: $5,436.86.
A review of the school's Alva State Bank & Trust account from 2012 to 2018, found Cribley wrote unauthorized checks totaling $19,145.45, according to the affidavit.

Treasurer accused of embezzling over $100,000 from Elkhorn High School show choir


The treasurer of nonprofit organization that funds the Elkhorn High School show choir is in the Douglas County Corrections Center.
Omaha police booked Katrina Christensen on Tuesday morning for theft by deception and embezzling more than $5,000 from the Elkhorn High School pARTners, Parents for the Arts.
In court Wednesday, Douglas County prosecutors said Christensen embezzled $116,625.94. Prosecutors said Christensen wrote personal checks under the non-profits name, applied for personal loans under the nonprofits name and used the nonprofits debit and credit cards for personal use.
Investigators believe Christensen had been stealing money since 2015.
In emails obtained by KETV Newswatch 7, the all-volunteer board of directors made parents aware in early February of "significant losses to our pARTners bank account, inconsistent with previously reported balances."
The board told the parents it made the discovery in late January, a week before the choir's Red Carpet Classic event.
The money raised for the booster organization helps students with travel to show competitions, costumes and other necessities.
Elkhorn High School pARTners, Parents for the Arts sent us this statement:
"We appreciate your concern for our students and program. In the interest of allowing a criminal case to proceed without added prejudice and protecting minors affected by the situation, we are declining to comment at this time on details of our account and any specific activity around it. While we are understandably shocked and disappointed by the discovery of financial losses, we respectfully ask that you allow our volunteer organization to process the situation without interference. We are proactively moving forward, implementing changes to ensure that nothing like this happens again. We are committed to continuing our work of supporting our students in the Arts programs at Elkhorn High."
Elkhorn Public Schools sent us this statement:
“When the matter was brought to the administration by the booster club leadership, we promptly encouraged them to contact the police. We await the outcome of the investigation, and full restitution of the funds intended to support our choral music students.”

Brookfield Embezzlement Plea Hearing Continued, to March

The plea hearing for a woman charged with embezzling from a Brookfield parent-teacher organization was continued from Thursday to March 27 at Danbury Superior Court.
Monica Bevilacqua, 39, of Brookfield, was arrested in December after police said she took money from the Center Elementary School PTO's accounts over two years.
Monica Bevilacqua, 39, of Brookfield, was arrested in December and charged with embezzling $12,700 from a Brookfield parent-teacher organization (PTO) over two years when she served as treasurer. She has been accused of taking money from the organization's accounts via more than 180 personal orders charged to the organization's credit card and a series of checks.
The PTO is a private organization that doesn't receive any public funding from the town of Brookfield or its schools.

Court records also indicate that Bevilacqua was asked to pay $100,000 in December to settle a civil case with a pedestrian she struck and injured in 2016. The previous month, a judge ordered her to pay almost $17,000 she owed to Citibank for her Mastercard bills.

Somerset Woman Stole $34K from Athletic Club to Pay Mortgage

 A Somerset woman is being charged with stealing over $30,000 from a high school athletics organization.
The Bristol County District Attorney's Office issued a complaint Thursday morning against Dulce Pacheco, 51, of Somerset, charging her with one count of larceny over $1,200 by single scheme.
Gregg Miliote, the spokesman for the Bristol County District Attorney's Office, says Pacheco is alleged to have stolen $34,500 in December 2017 from the Somerset Berkley Regional High School Athletics Booster Club. Pacheco was the treasurer of the organization

Pacheco is alleged to have used the cash to pay the mortgage on her home.
Miliote says the investigation into the alleged theft began in December 2018 after the Somerset Police Department became aware of "talk" of the supposed crime. Somerset Police referred the matter to the Bristol County District Attorney's Office. Michael Scott, Chief of the Financial Crimes Unit of the DA's Office, investigated the allegations with the assistance of the School Resource Officer assigned to Somerset Berkley Regional High School, James Roberts.
Pacheco will be summonsed to appear in Fall River District Court on March 18 for arraignment on the single charge.

Ex-employee arrested, accused of embezzling from Sweetwater Union High School District

A former Sweetwater Union High School District worker was arrested on suspicion of embezzling thousands of dollars from the district while she was an employee.
Danya Margarita Williams, 42, is accused of stealing more than $50,000 in money orders between June 2016 and November 2017, the Chula Vista Police Department said. Williams was arrested March 5 and was booked into the Las Colinas Detention Facility, the department announced. Her bail was set at $50,000 and she bailed out Tuesday night, according to the District Attorney.
In a press release, police detailed what led to Williams’ arrest: District officials discovered the embezzlement in late-2017 and reported it to the Chula Vista Police Department. Police detectives, working in coordination with District officials, conducted a thorough investigation. Detectives determined that Williams, while employed by the District, appropriated money orders in excess of $50,000. According to the district, she worked there from October 2001 until February of 2018.
According to police, as a part of her job Williams was responsible for processing money orders received for fingerprint background investigations at the District. Background investigations are required during employment screening. Each applicant pays for the cost of the background investigation, which can range from $52 to $75 per applicant, using money orders. Instead of processing the money in accordance with District requirements, Williams deposited the money into her personal bank account.
After considerable investigation Detectives obtained a warrant for Williams’ arrest.
Williams’ job title was risk management specialist in the district’s accounting department, according to district records from 2017.
Public records for 2017 showed Williams’ earnings including benefits while with the district were $86,877.54 -- a 12 percent raise from her salary from the previous year.
Sweetwater District spokesman Manny Rubio said Williams left her job with the district in February 2018. She had been working in the district's human resources department up until her departure, according to Rubio.
Rubio said Monday, March 11th, there will be a budget meeting where the district will present a plan to balance the budget by the end of 2019.
Williams will be arraigned March 12th, at 1:30 p.m.

Deputy was center of Logan Heights church embezzlement probe

More than $100,000 went missing from New Hope Friendship Baptist Church in 2008 and 2010, according to new Sheriff’s Department investigation report Friday.
The investigation was an Internal Affairs probe into Lt. Devera Scott. Scott was also the treasurer for New Hope Friendship Baptist Church during the time the money went missing.
The report claims Scott admitted to church officials she took the money. However, the church told investigators they did not want to press charges as Scott had promised the church she would it pay it all back through monthly payments, and a portion of her retirement.
The church also told investigators they were in the business of forgiveness and did not want to ruin Scott’s career, according to the documents.
Investigators also learned that Scott made the church a beneficiary to a $300,000 life insurance and accidental death and dismemberment insurance policy.
The internal investigation became public Friday, following the ruling of a San Diego judge. The decision comes after local media, including 10News, sued to keep police unions from blocking departments from releasing records related to officer misconduct.
The San Diego Sheriff's Department was not part of the suit and has been releasing cases pursuant to SB1421, according to sheriff's department Lt. Karen Stubkjaer.
Scott retired from the sheriff’s department on March 22, 2013, before the investigation into the missing church money was complete according to the documents.
No charges were ever made against Scott.
Other court filings suggest Scott might have been facing financial problems at the time.
10News reached out to the church for comment. The pastor referred 10News to their attorney, who was not immediately available for comment.
10News also attempted reaching out to Scott but has not returned our request for comment.

APPEALS COURT FINDS NO ERROR IN FORMER SCHOOL BOARD MEMBER’S CONVICTION

 A North Carolina Court of Appeals panel has found no error in the conviction of a former Brunswick County School Board member for embezzlement when he led a local school’s PTA.
Ray Gilbert, who served on the school board from 2004 to 2008, was arrested in June 2013 and charged with embezzling more than $3,000 from the PTA at Jessie Mae Monroe Elementary School in AshA jury convicted Gilbert in June 2017 on two counts of embezzlement by an officer of a charitable organization. He was sentenced to two consecutive terms of 16-29 months, both of which were suspended for 36 months of supervised probation.
In an unpublished opinion from the NC Court of Appeals released today, a panel of judges denied Gilbert’s claims, including concerns about jury instructions and the testimony of a Brunswick County Sheriff’s Office detective, were enough to grant him a new trial. The judges, though, did leave open the possibility of Gilbert getting appropriate relief for ineffective assistance of counsel.
According to the ruling, investigators charged Gilbert, who served as Jessie Mae Monroe’s PTA president from 2011 to 2013, after a CPA’s review of the organization’s finances “found several problematic transactions, such as transactions with no receipts, unaccounted for gift cards and fundraising certificates, checks for meals, checks reimbursing Defendant personally for gas and travel expenses, and checks issued without the purpose indicated.”
Prosecutors offered as evidence transactions including golf shirts embroidered with the name of the church where Gilbert was the pastor, but billed to and paid for by the PTA; PTA reimbursements to Gilbert for gas used to attend a family funeral; a digital camera purchased by Gilbert with PTA funds; numerous unaccounted for gift cards bought with PTA funds; payments to PTA board members and their families; reimbursements for food at PTA board meetings; and renewal of the church’s Sam’s Club membership with PTA funds.

Gilbert presented no evidence at trial in his own defense and moved to have the case dismiss, which was denied.
The PTA’s treasurer testified against Gilbert after being granted immunity from prosecution.