Thursday, July 24, 2014

5 indicted in embezzlement of school district funds

Five people on Friday were indicted by a grand jury in connection with the embezzlement of nearly $300,000 from the Clark County School District.
The theft of public funds came from the district's Adult English Language Acquisition program, which has since been shut down.
Superintendent Pat Skorkowsky first learned of the theft last December. Skorkowsky called a press conference on Friday to discuss the indictment. During the press event he said he called police immediately upon learning of the crime.
"This is something that we are not going to tolerate in the Clark County School District," Skorkowsky said.
The 52-count indictment accuses program director Priscilla Rocha of falsifying time cards and directing money to co-defendants for personal use.
"We can't allow this. We are so cash-strapped as it is that we can't afford to let anyone take anything out of a student's hand," Skorkowsky said.
Skorkowsky said that Rocha, who had been with the district since 1990, is also accused of buying thousands of dollars' worth of computer equipment with program funds and giving it to schools in Mexico. The indictment additionally states she would charge students for dictionaries and pocket the cash.
The theft has forced the district to make policy changes, and more will come after additional documents are revealed to district leaders.
"We will be looking at all of our procedures when it comes to accounting, money and expenditures based upon those documents so we can see what we can put in place to prevent this from ever happening again," Skorkowsky said.
Las Vegas police served search warrants at the program office and elsewhere after being tipped off by an employee.
Rocha and three additional employees, who have yet to be identified, were placed on leave.
"This was a person supposedly in a position of authority. So was she given too much authority that allowed this type of supposed embezzlement of money for personal use?" FOX5 legal analyst Bob Massi asked.
Massi said that typically criminals are caught when someone turns them in.
"I think in this case $300,000 is a lot of money, but you wonder if it had gone on, how much money this could have been?" he said.
Rocha retired in April while under investigation.
The program she headed offered English classes to non or limited English-speaking adults. Skorkowsky said the district is in the process of rolling that program into another one.
Rocha is scheduled to appear in court on July 24.

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