Friday, December 11, 2009


The public information officer and school board clerk for the Montgomery County Public Schools is under investigation for allegedly embezzling from the school system.
Anita P. Johnston, 44, has not been charged with any crime, Maj. Dalton Reid of the Christiansburg Police Department said in a news release.
According to two search warrant affidavits filed Thursday in Montgomery County Circuit Court, Johnston may have deposited money meant for the school system in her personal bank accounts.
The search warrants sought access to Johnston's bank records.
On December 4, 2009, interim Superintendent Walt Shannon contacted the police department and provided "copies of a check that had been written to Montgomery County Public Schools but had been signed and deposited into a personal account" of Johnston, according to the affidavit.
Neither Shannon nor Johnston could be reached for comment Thursday.
The first search warrant, which sought Johnston's bank records from July 2008 to December 2009, said that a previous search found that Johnston's July 2008 bank statements showed "several fraudulent transactions." That led police to file a second warrant to examine more bank records from Jan. 1, 2007, through June 30, 2008.
"Thus far the investigation indicates a substantial amount of funds deposited in the accounts of Ms. Johnston some of which are related to the investigation," Reid said. "Police are still in the process of determining just how much money is actually involved."
It's unclear how many members of the Montgomery County School Board knew about the investigation.
Board member Joe Ivers said Thursday he was shocked to learn about the investigation. "I don't know what to say," he said.
Board chairman Wendell Jones said he found out about the investigation on Sunday night. He said he was "speechless."
Johnston was not at work Thursday. Jones said she has been suspended without pay.
Mark Pasier, the school system's human resources director, said Johnston still is "on the books" as an employee. He would not comment further.

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