Friday, August 15, 2014

Rialto Unified: Judith Oakes embezzlement trial pushed back again in California

Former Rialto Unified accountant Judith Oakes has had her day in court pushed back again.

If that sounds familiar, it does to West Valley Superior Court Judge Bridgid M. McCann, too.

“If there is not a resolution at the next hearing date, (preliminary hearing) dates will be set,” she warned lawyers representing both the prosecution and defense on Thursday morning.

Oakes is next scheduled to appear in court for a “pre-preliminary conference” on Aug. 21.

It’s been more than a year since Oakes was arrested on suspicion of embezzling $1.8 million from the Rialto Unified School District.

Oakes, who worked in Rialto Unified’s Nutrition Services Department for 25 years, is charged with eight counts of embezzlement by a public or private officer and eight counts of a public officer crime. If convicted of all charges, she faces up to 11 years in state prison.

She has been jailed at Glen Helen Rehabilitation Center in Devore since Oct. 9, 2013.

Although Oakes is only charged with embezzling $1.8 million, an auditor hired by Rialto Unified reported that she may have stolen $3.1 million over 14 years. The statute of limitations on embezzlement prevents her from being charged on the full amount.

According to the audit, Oakes allegedly stole an average of $2,000 three out of every four days she worked over the past four years. Video cameras at Rialto Unified reportedly caught her stuffing bundles of cash into her bra on two occasions.

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