Thursday, April 22, 2010

Former secretary at Fayetteville, North Carolina South Columbus High faces embezzlement charge

Discrepancies totaling nearly $58,000 in accounts at South Columbus High School in 2007 and 2008 resulted in the arrest Friday, April 16, 2010 of a former secretary on embezzlement charges.

Kimberly Clairee Williams, 40, of the 100 block of Grist Road in Chadbourn, is accused of embezzling $57,872.86 from the school during a 10-month period from September 2007 through June 2008, according to a search warrant obtained by Agent Megan Kwalick with the State Bureau of Investigation.
Problems with Williams' record keeping were noticed as early as January 2008, six months after she was hired as a secretary and treasurer for the high school near Tabor City.
By May 2008, it appeared the school's bank account was short by about $30,000. Williams missed six appointments with Terry Dudney, finance director for the Columbus County Board of Education, to discuss the irregularities, before finally attending a meeting in mid-May 2008 with Principal Dale Norris and Dudney.
Williams "began to cry" at that meeting, and told the school officials "she was not being understood by anyone."
Williams was given more time to provide corrected records and had not done so by June 2008.
Officials from Waccamaw Bank notified the school in July 2008 that the school bank account was overdrawn. That prompted Norris and Dudney to review school records again on July 7, 2008. They discovered even more money missing than during their first review. The search warrant does not say how much.
Williams was placed on paid suspension on July 10, 2008.
"On July 11, 2008, Williams sent a letter to the school system saying she would be willing to pay back any money missing from the bank account, and also requesting a hearing regarding her job status," the search warrant said.
Williams resigned July 21, 2008.
Investigators with the Columbus County Sheriff's Office were notified after Waccamaw Bank told school officials the bank account was overdrawn. Detectives decided an outside agency should take on the investigation and asked for the SBI to do so.
Williams was identified by school officials as the only one responsible for maintaining a ledger of deposits and taking those deposits to Waccamaw Bank.
Superintendent Dan Strickland said he did not know why the investigation took so long.
He said county funds were used to make up for the losses temporarily and those losses eventually were absorbed by the school.

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