Saturday, October 6, 2012

Wisconsin woman admits to skimming from public schools

A former accounts payable clerk is accused of stealing more than $200,000 from the La Crescent-Hokah public schools to fuel a gambling habit.
Mary Chris Turner of Onalaska admitted to taking money for up to a decade, telling police she spent it on pull tabs, bingo and at casinos, according to a criminal complaint.
Turner, 59, was charged Thursday in Houston County District Court with felony theft, swindle, embezzlement of public funds and credit card fraud.She did not respond to a message left at her home Friday.According to the complaint, district officials discovered missing checks during an annual audit. They then realized someone had used the district Visa card to make cash withdrawals and doctored the credit card statement in a cover-up.Officials suspected Turner, who was responsible for keeping track of credit card use. According to the complaint, they said she was protective of the cards and worried about other employees using them for large purchases.
Police reviewed Kwik Trip security video that showed Turner using a cash machine on three occasions in September when cash advances were made. District officials provided credit card bills since January 2008 detailing $202,618 in losses, according to the complaint. Their investigation showed Turner also wrote unauthorized checks to herself while indicating the money was paid to vendors. Police found $5,000 worth of cash withdrawals at La Crescent Kwik Trips over a three month period this summer. Police questioned Turner on Wednesday, and she admitted taking money for five to 10 years, acknowledging the total amount could be more than $100,000. Turner said she gambled at the casino in Black River Falls, played pull tabs at the American Legion and played bingo at Crucifixion School in La Crescent. According to the complaint, Turner also admitted to skimming about $10,000 over the past six years from gate proceeds for sectional playoff games.
Superintendent Ron Wilke said the school district is cooperating with law enforcement and is pursuing an internal investigation. He said the district is insured against such thefts.
The district also released a written statement reading in part, “Our students and families are the district’s top priority, and we will continue the good work that happens inside of our school buildings each and every day.” The statement cited Minnesota’s Data Practices Act as preventing it from sharing more information. Wilke said Turner no longer works for the school district but would not say whether she had been fired. Turner is free on a $10,000 conditional bond and scheduled to return to court Oct. 15.

No comments:

Post a Comment