Friday, February 27, 2015

Former Laurel Christian School headmaster pleads guilty to embezzlement

Former Laurel Christian School Headmaster Rick Bartley, 55, pleaded guilty in court Thursday to his indicted charge of embezzlement in excess of $25,000.

According to the Jones County District Attorney's Office, Bartley was stealing cash from the school overtime from 2011 – 2013. The office said when Bartley was previously asked if he had ever taken cash from Laurel Christian School Bartley replied and said he did and the reason he did was because he was living beyond his means.

District Attorney Tony Buckley said if the case went to trial the state would be able to prove that an amount of $58,000 was stolen from Laurel Christian School by Bartley. He went on to say they would be able to provide parents to testify in the case saying they paid Bartley cash for their child's education. Buckley said the state would also provide statements by some employees of the school testifying that all cash payments from 2008 and on that came into the office had to be turned in to Bartley.

Bartley received a 5 year sentence with the Mississippi Department of Corrections, with all 5 years of that sentence suspended on condition that he successfully completes 5 years of unsupervised post-release supervision.

According to the district attorney's office, Bartley is not medically well. The office said the sentence given to Bartley is for the purpose of allowing him to return to his home in Alabama so that he is able to maintain his medical visits that he will need in Texas and Alabama.

Judge Dal Williamson said the sentence was not one that he would ordinarily approve of based on the crime committed, but he went ahead and sentenced Bartley to what the state and the Laurel Christian School board members agreed on. According to the district attorney's office, the school board did not wish to see Bartley go to prison.

“You violated the trust that a lot of people put in you, “said Judge Williamson to Bartley. “People looked up to you, I looked up to you.”

When asked if he had anything to say Bartley said, “I'm sorry and for all who hear this I would ask their forgiveness.”

Bartley was arrested after his sentence, booked into the Jones County jail and was then released. The D.A.'s office said Bartley will have to pay back $12,000 to Laurel Christian School.

“He's now a convicted felon, he can now no longer work in many jobs or vote because it's a crime of dishonesty,” said Buckley. “It's also a crime that cannot be expunged by law in Mississippi so he'll have that conviction for the rest of his life. It's not something that any professional person that's been in education with a wife and kids wants to have publicly acknowledged.”

Buckley said no student at LCS suffered as a result of the crime committed by Bartley, who was headmaster at the school from 1999 - 2013

Tustin woman charged in private-school embezzlement

A former officer manager in Orange has been charged with embezzling thousands of dollars from a Catholic school fundraising program and using the cash for designer clothes and private school tuition.

Adela Maria Tapia, 40, of Tustin was charged Monday with 15 felony counts, including grand theft and money laundering, authorities said. Tapia also faces sentencing enhancements for aggravated white collar crime over $100,000 and property loss of over $200,000.

Between 2006 and 2011, Tapia, a former office manager at the Holy Family Cathedral School in Orange, is accused of taking cash payments from families for a school fundraising gift card program and then depositing the money in her personal bank account, according to the Orange County District Attorney’s Office.

Tapia also is accused of selling fundraising gift cards to her family members, one of whom is a Catholic church deacon, and then using the money to buy luxury items and private school tuition, prosecutors said.

Authorities launched an investigation in 2011 after the school’s principal found gift cards worth $120,000 were missing.

If convicted, she faces a maximum sentence of 14 years in prison.

Former charter school director used shell companies to steal federal money

Federal prosecutors Wednesday said a former public charter school director used shell companies to embezzle more than $1 million in federal funds provided to the school for food and educational purposes.

U.S. Attorney Winston Holliday alleged that 40-year-old Benita Dinkins-Robinson, director of the former Mary L. Dinkins Higher Learning Academy in Bishopville, siphoned off money using four shell companies – J and J Contracting, T and E Catering, New Age Computers and Project Reach – that accepted payments of school money.

The school was a part of the S.C. Public Charter School District – a growing group of 31 public schools with 17,000 students and 500 teachers across South Carolina in more than a dozen counties. The Legislature created the statewide charter school district in 2007 as a way to empower parents and others to set up public schools with different missions. The Dinkins school was closed in 2013 after the charter district voted to stop its funding.

The Dinkins school was in rural Lee County and qualified for Title I funding, which allowed it to receive money for food and education for the students from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Department of Education.

But testimony from Janice Crocco, a former 5th grade teacher at the Dinkins school, suggested that the federal funds never benefited the students.

Crocco, who worked for the school for a little over five months beginning in December 2010, said students would often go without meals at lunch because there was no food. In those instances, students would have to wait until pizza was ordered at the school just before they were dismissed.

Crocco also said the school’s overall cleanliness and organization was in disarray. She said when she would take her 12 students to the bathroom, she often brought toilet paper with her because there wasn’t any in the doorless stalls. She also said that Dinkins-Robinson was at the school only two to three days out of the week and would often not show up for scheduled faculty meetings.

Holliday alleged that Dinkins-Robinson would use the funding from the government to pay for a catering company, T and E Catering, to provide food for students. However, Eleazor Carter, Dinkins-Robinson’s attorney, said that while his client was a business partner in the catering company, the state’s charter school district approved of their services. Carter also conceded that Dinkins-Robinson was a founding member of Project Reach and that her brother owned New Age Computers.

Along with large cash withdrawals from the school’s account, Holliday said Dinkins-Robinson would make out checks to pay rent for the building in which the school operated that were in excess of the rent amount due. He alleged that she would spend the extra money on lavish vacations and shopping sprees.

The Dinkins school at first operated under the Lee County School District. It asked to be authorized as a charter school in Sumter County, reporting to the state charter school district, after receiving pushback and alleged harassment from Lee County, according to Carter.

Clay Eaton, a witness for the prosecution and a former public relations director for the charter school district, said when he inspected the school between 2010 and 2012 after it applied to be authorized by the charter district, he noticed the school would report inflated students numbers to the charter district, sometimes by the dozens.

Each public school and public charter school receives funding from state and federal entities on a per-pupil basis. If a public school has a large amount of special needs students or a large student population in general, it gets a higher per-pupil amount from the federal government.

U.S. Judge Terry Wooten dismissed Wednesday’s hearing early in light of the winter storm moving through the state. Wooten said the next trial session will be held Friday, weather permitting.

Read more here:

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Woman allegedly embezzled $438,000 from Catholic school fundraiser

A 40-year-old mother was arrested Tuesday for allegedly embezzling more than $400,000 from a Catholic school’s fundraising program, Orange County prosecutors said.

Adela Maria Tapia allegedly used some of the money at the department store Nordstrom, racked up $60,000 in credit card charges and paid for her children's private school tuition.

Tapia, who lives in Tustin, faces two felony counts of grand theft and 13 felony counts of money laundering, according to the Orange County district attorney’s office. If convicted on all charges, she could be sentenced to 14 years and 4 months in prison.

Between September 2006 and September 2011, Tapia ran the scrip card fundraising program at Holy Family Cathedral School in Orange.

The program raises about $200,000 annually for the school by purchasing gift cards at a discount, selling them to school families or parishioners and keeping the difference.

When families paid for gift cards with cash, prosecutors say Tapia pocketed the money and deposited it into her bank account. In all, she allegedly embezzled $438,000, said Deputy Dist. Atty. Marc Labreche.

“It’s all lifestyle enhancement using other people’s money,” Labreche said.

From a safe at the school, prosecutors say Tapia took scrip cards and sold them to family members.

The scheme was uncovered when Tapia was transferred to an office manager position in 2011, prosecutors said.

The school’s principal noticed about $120,000 worth of scrip cards were missing from the safe where the cards were stored, then reported it to the Orange Police Department.

The three-year investigation saw a forensic accountant review more than 83,000 pages of banking and financial records.

It’s unclear if Tapia had retained an attorney. She is scheduled to be arraigned Wednesday.

Holy Family Cathedral School Principal Margaret Harlow and the cathedral's rector, Msgr. Doug Cook, said in a letter to parents on Tuesday that the school was reimbursed for the missing money by the Diocese of Orange's insurance company.

The school has since improved the financial oversight of the scrip fundraising program. No programs were cut or tuition increased on account of the alleged theft, Harlow and Cook wrote.

"As a community of faith," they wrote, "we ask that you pray to God for all parties involved, and that a fair and just outcome is the ultimate result."

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Glendale HS bookstore manager embezzled $70,000

A Glendale high-school bookstore manager was indicted last week after state investigators claimed she had embezzled more than $70,000 through a skimming operation that lasted for years at Independence High School, according to a report from the Arizona Office of the Auditor General.

Investigators said Shannon May executed the scheme by withholding check deposits, forging signatures and falsely approving purchases, according to the auditor's report.

May was hired in 2006 to work at the Independence High School bookstore where she was asked to manage the store's incoming and outgoing funds and prepare district checks when student clubs requested a purchase, the report said.

It was not until 2010 that Independence High School officials discovered a check that had the forged signature of the assistant principal and the unauthorized use of the principal's signature stamp, according to the report.

May immediately submitted her resignation but the Glendale Union High School District looked further into reviewing bookstore accounts, the report said.

It was then discovered that May had been pocketing cash payments made to the bookstore, specifically between November 2008 and her resignation in April 2010, according to the auditor's report.

Investigators said May had carefully skimmed the bookstore account for those two years by continually depositing a portion of bookstore receipts and by consistently falsifying how much money was actually being deposited.

Reports from the Auditor General also said that May had gone to the bank 65 times to make cash deposits that ranged from $40 to $2,200. May deposited a total of $38,210 in cash into her personal accounts that were held at the same bank as the school district accounts, the report concluded.

After resigning from the district, May made significantly smaller bank deposits, as low as $385, a much smaller number than the $14,110 in deposits she had made in the six months before her resignation, investigators said.

The auditor's report also noted that Glendale Union High School District administrators admitted that cash-handling duties were not properly segregated and that the bookstore's funds were not properly recorded. District officials took some steps to address the shortcomings, including hiring an auditor.

The report released Monday included specific recommendations to increase oversight, including increased training and the development of more stringent policies.

Danville principal cited for embezzlement

A former Vermont principal of the year is facing charges of stealing from his current school.

About $1,600 went missing from the Danville school safe last week. Police say surveillance video shows Principal Edwin Webbley taking the money.
Webbley was the 2011 principal of the year when he worked at Vergennes Union High School. This is not his first brush with the law. In 2012, he was charged with DUI after crashing his car into his home in Bristol.

Edwin Webbley was cited to appear in Caledonia Court on March 23.

Decatur Schools employee steps down after embezzlement charges

 A longtime Decatur Schools employee has stepped down after she was charged with embezzlement earlier this year. 

Michigan State Police say the assistant bookkeeper for Decatur Schools has stepped down after more than 20 years on the job. This comes after she pleaded guilty to embezzlement charges. 

Michigan State Police say they were contacted by a school official to look into the potential embezzlement. 

Sharon Hemenway turned herself in as a result of the investigation during the first week of January. 

Newschannel 3 is told that Hemenway was accused of taking anywhere from five to fourteen thousand dollars over the course of a year. 

Police say the money was pulled from student accounts like the National Honors Society. 

Hemenway stepped down at a school board meeting. MSP says there will be a restitution hearing coming up to determine how much money she’ll have to pay back to the school

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Alleged embezzlement in Girl Scout Troop

A Mitchell County woman has been accused of embezzling from a Girl Scout Troop.

38-year-old Jennifer H. Nilges of Osage was arrested February 15 on charges of misappropriation of funds and ongoing criminal conduct.  Both charges are felonies.

On February 3, the Osage Police Department was notified of money missing from a Girl Scout Troop account.  An investigation allegedly found that Nilges had used the money to buy personal items.  Approximately $1,500 was taken from the account.

The Osage Police Department says Nilges is being held in the Mitchell County Jail on a $2,500 cash-only bond.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Bismarck woman accused of embezzling $12,500 from high school dance team booster club

A Bismarck woman is accused of embezzling $12,500 from a high school dance team.

Thirty-four-year-old Melissa Weltz allegedly stole the money from the Bismarck High School Demonettes Booster Club while serving as treasurer.

She faces a felony theft charge that carries a maximum punishment of 10 years in prison and a $10,000 fine. A court hearing was not immediately scheduled.

Court documents do not list an attorney for Weltz, and a telephone listing for her could not be found.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Triad woman accused of embezzling from PTA

The former president of the Parent-Teacher Association at a Stokes County elementary school has been charged with embezzlement.
Amanda Goad Tucker faces a count of felony embezzlement, the Stokes News reported. She served as treasurer and president of the PTA at Sandy Ridge Elementary School.
Chief Deputy Craig Carico of the Stokes County Sheriff's Office told the newspaper that his department found evidence that $2,700 had been taken. Police believe the alleged crime happened between October of last year and this month.
Tucker, 34, of Stokes County, was set to appear in court Feb. 18.

Marshall Co. pastor's wife arraigned for embezzlement

The wife of a former Kingston church pastor appeared Wednesday in court to answer to embezzlement charges.
Samantha Webb was taken into custody in August 2014. Kingston Police say she's suspected of taking more than $20,000 from the Compassion Church.
Webb, 34, was in Marshall County court for a formal arraignment. She maintained her not guilty plea.
She is also facing two counts of forgery in Choctaw County.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Former Winslow woman pleads guilty to embezzling school sports funds

A former Winslow woman pleaded guilty Tuesday to embezzling thousands of dollars from a school sports team and a sports boosters’ club, while also stealing state welfare benefits.

Wendi R. Willette, also known as Wendi Thompson, 41, now of Whitefield, N.H., stood at a podium with her hands clasped behind her back and responded “guilty” when Justice Andrew Horton asked for her pleas in Kennebec County Superior Court in Augusta.

Kennebec County District Attorney Maeghan Maloney said the people involved with the sports teams told her they placed a lot of trust in Willette and felt betrayed.

“The money was to be used for the kids,” Maloney said. “Parents came together to raise money for the kids so they could have a wrestling team and a field hockey team. What shocked them the most was that she was willing to take the money from the kids.”

Under a proposed sentence agreed to by the prosecutors and defense attorney, Willette faces up to four years in prison with all but 12 to 18 months suspended and three years of probation. She remains free pending sentencing, which has been scheduled for June 22.

Her attorney, Randy Robinson, had requested a sentencing date in late June or early July because “she home-schools one of her children, and she also has some health issues she needs to address before she starts incarceration.”

Robinson told the judge that while his client disputed some of the claims made by the state, “she does not deny that there was wrongdoing,” and he believed she would likely be convicted.

Under a plea deal, Willette also will have to pay restitution of more than $60,000 to the state and $8,425 to the Winslow Wrestling Sports Boosters Club, where she was the treasurer, as well as $300 for the China Girls’ Field Hockey Team, where she was a coach.

Maloney, who pursued the thefts from the school club and team, and Assistant Attorney General Darcy Mitchell, who prosecuted Willette on the state welfare theft and forgery charges, both said Robinson could argue for less than the 18 months of jail time if all the restitution is paid before Willette starts her prison term.

After the hearing Maloney said that Willette had made a $5,000 restitution payment on Feb. 3 and that all that money will be turned over shortly to the wrestling boosters. After the hearing, Robinson said Willette was able to repay the $5,000 because she sold some items and because she saved some money by taking in a roommate.

Maloney also said that under an agreement, Willette is to pay $300 to the field hockey team by March 7.

Both Maloney and Robinson said later that Willette indicated she had a written apology, but that was not brought up during the hearing Tuesday.

Robinson told the judge that Willette’s partner expects a settlement in a lawsuit he is pursuing. If that comes through as anticipated, Robinson said the restitution would be paid in full.

Maloney said the people involved with the sports teams were contacted about Tuesday’s plea and initially did not wish to be at the hearing although one representative was there.

“I did meet personally with the victims at the fire station in Winslow,” Maloney told Horton. “I was able to get a good sense of the harm they’ve been through.”

Maloney said the victims agreed with the proposed sentence because Willette is taking responsibility for the crimes, they need the money repaid to continue the programs and she will serve jail time.

Willette had previously been indicted on three counts of theft by deception, one count of aggravated forgery and five counts of unsworn falsification in connection with the state fraud. She was also previously indicted on three charges of theft — stealing more than $10,000 from the Winslow Wrestling Booster Club between Sept. 1, 2010, and July 31, 2013, and of stealing $300 from the China Girls Field Hockey Team Sept. 1-17, 2013.

On Tuesday, one count of theft by deception was dismissed.

According to the indictments, Willette received money from food stamps and from MaineCare and the State Supplement Program between Dec. 1, 2007, and Dec. 31, 2013. In her applications, she indicated she and her two sons were the only occupants of her China Road Home and she had no income other than Social Security disability payments.

The indictment said Willette intentionally failed to disclose that her husband was living at the home and contributing financially to the household. It also said she filed a false 2011 property tax bill with the state on March 6, 2012.

In court on Tuesday, Mitchell said some of the fraud was uncovered after Willette Thompson’s then-husband, Paul Willette, learned that she was receiving state benefits.

Mitchell said the husband told officials in September 2013 that he had been living with the family in the China Road home, was steadily employed as a truck driver for a food distribution firm, that he never made less than $55,000 a year and that the money went into a joint account.

Mitchell said records show that in June 2007 the couple purchased property on China Road, built a $70,000 mobile home and two years later obtained a town permit to install a deck and a pool.

At the same time, Mitchell said, Willette regularly filled out applications for state aid saying that she and her two children lived alone, received no support from her husband and had a zero balance in her bank account.

Willette applied for and received $840 from Maine State Housing’s Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program and at one point sought assistance with paying a 2011 property tax bill which she altered to remove her husband’s name, Mitchell told the judge.

Mitchell said state benefit overpayments to Willette were calculated at $41,989 for Department of Health & Human Services assistance in the form of food stamps and MaineCare, $840 for Maine State Housing and $18,456 in Supplemental Security Income.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Stokes Co. PTA President Charged With Embezzlement

A P.T.A. President from Stokes County is accused of stealing money from Sandy Ridge Elementary School.

The Stokes County Sheriff's Office charged Amanda Tucker with felony embezzlement.

Tucker is accused of stealing $2,700 from the Sandy Ridge Elementary P.T.A. account over the last 5 months.

Stokes County Sheriff Mike Marshall issued a statement on his Facebook page on Thursday afternoon.

"It's sad that an organization that benefits our children such as the P.T.A. falls prey to this illegal activity," said Marshall. "I sincerely hope the monies can be repaid to the P.T.A. and that the P.T.A. can continue to operate as it has in the past until full restitution is paid."

Investigators say Tucker was the president and acting treasurer of the PTA -- but has been let go from both positions.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Former Teacher Accused Of Pawning School System's Laptops Makes First Court Appearance

A Danville woman accused of stealing three laptops form Caswell County Schools and then pawning them, made her first court appearance on Wednesday.
25-year-old Emily Hill taught at the alternative school in Caswell County. She is charged with one count of felony embezzlement and one count felony larceny.  A grand jury handed up the indictments on Wednesday.
The principal of Bartlett Yancey High School was also charged with seven counts of felony embezzlement. She's expected in court on February 18.

New charge possible in TCAPS embezzlement case

A proposed new charge against a former West Middle School employee who's accused of embezzlement could figure in a potential plea deal on the eve of trial.
Grand Traverse County prosecutors recently filed a motion in 13th Circuit Court to add a charge against Benzie County resident Mary Gillison, 50, for embezzlement by a public officer of an amount more than $50.
Gillison already faces charges of felony embezzlement and illegal use of a financial transaction device for allegedly stealing thousands of dollars from the district and from fellow West Middle School students and staff. The new proposed charge likely will be discussed in a court hearing on Friday, Gillison's last day to accept a plea offer before trial.
Gillison's attorney Craig Elhart said the new charge "absolutely" could relate to ongoing plea negotiations.
"We have an agreement, we're working toward that now," he said.
Gillison resigned from Traverse City Area Public Schools in March 2014 after officials confronted her about unauthorized purchases. A subsequent audit and a Grand Traverse County sheriff's investigation into Gillison's bank statements show about $8,000 in unauthorized purchases since 2009.
School officials reported about $58,600 in missing money from 2006 until Gillison resigned.
Grand Traverse County Chief Assistant Prosecutor Noelle Moeggenberg said "a closer look" at the investigative reports led prosecutors to believe the new charge is appropriate. The charge applies to public officers or their agents who knowingly appropriate money or property to their own use. It's punished by up to 10 years in prison or a maximum fine of $5,000.
A motion hearing is scheduled for Friday at 9 a.m. and a final conference for 1 p.m.

Secretary at Long Beach Catholic School Sentenced for Embezzling $260,000

A secretary at a Long Beach Catholic school was sentenced Wednesday for stealing more than $260,000 from the school, according to a statement from the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office (LADA).

Maria Guadalupe Hernandez, the 35-year-old secretary for St. Barnabas Parish School, was found guilty on January 28 in a bench trial of three counts of grand theft by embezzlement.

Prosecutor and Deputy District Attorney Brian Kang said in court Wednesday that even though the school seemed to be struggling financially for years, it wasn't until 2011 that officials "became aware of irregularities in the use of the school's fundraising account and began an investigation."

During an investigation, officials found that Hernandez, who had been with the school since1999 had stolen more than $260,000 from the school's fundraising account between 2009 and 2011.

Hernandez paid back $50,000 of the $260,647.40 at Wednesday's sentencing and also provided a security on two properties for the remaining $210,647.40. Because of this initial repayment, Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge James D. Otto suspended the maximum sentence of six years and four months in state prison, according to the LADA.

Instead, Hernandez was sentenced to five years of probation and was ordered to pay the remaining $210,647.40 of the stolen money back to the school during those five years.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

3 Ionia County accused embezzlers arraigned

Three female treasurers charged with embezzling were arraigned Tuesday morning in Ionia County 64-A District Court, with Judge Raymond Voet presiding. 
Voet entered a not guilty plea for Dana Kamradt of Ionia, who is accused of embezzlement as an agent or trustee of an amount between $1,000 and $20,000 by the Jefferson Elementary School boosters organization. The embezzlement is alleged to have taken place from Aug. 1, 2013 through Oct. 6, 2014, and Kamradt allegedly came into possession of the cash, money or other personal property based upon her relationship with the organization. Kamradt served as the treasurer for the school’s parent teacher group.
A probable cause conference is scheduled for 1 p.m. Feb. 18, for Kamradt, with a preliminary exam to follow at 1 p.m. Feb. 25, if necessary.
If convicted, the maximum penalty for this felony is up to five years in prison and/or a fine of $10,000 or three times the amount embezzled, whichever is greater. Kamradt is free on bond. 
Voet also entered a not guilty plea for former city of Portland treasurer Brenda Schrauben, who was arraigned Tuesday on one count of embezzlement as an agent or trustee. Schrauben is accused of taking cash and sick leave, money or personal property valued between $1,000 and $20,000, which came into her possession based upon her relationship with the city from July 14, 2013 through Dec. 31, 2014. 
A probable cause conference is scheduled for 1 p.m. Feb. 18 for Schrauben, with a preliminary exam to follow at 1 p.m. Feb. 25, if necessary. 
If convicted, this felony carries a maximum penalty of up to five years in prison and/or a fine of $10,000, or three time the amount embezzled, whichever amount is greater. Schrauben is free on bond.
Wendi Houserman, former Village of Muir treasurer, also was arraigned Tuesday morning. Houserman entered a plea agreement, contingent upon paying restitution by her sentencing date, and this will allow her to remove incarceration as part of her sentence. Houserman has opted to represent herself, and as part of the deal, she waived the right to a preliminary exam. 
Houserman is charged with embezzlement by an agent or trustee, and is accused of using village funds to her personal use from 2008 to 2014 based upon her relationship with the village. If convicted, the maximum penalty is up to five years in prison and/or a fine of $10,000, or three times the amount embezzled, whichever is greater. Houserman is free on bond.
Houserman pleaded guilty, and with that, gave up the right to trial.
“I was entrusted to village funds and used some for my personal use,” Houserman said.
The actual amount embezzled is approximately $17,566, but the amount will also include $1,192 in interest and $342 for the village’s attorney fees, according to Ionia County Prosecutor Ron Schafer. With the attorney fees and interest accounted for, the total amount is more than $19,000. 

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Ex-Pleasanton Youth League President Accused of Embezzling

The former president of a youth baseball league in the San Francisco Bay Area has been arrested on suspicion of embezzling more than $20,000 and using some of the stolen funds to take his family on a trip to Disneyland.

The San Francisco Chronicle reports Jeremy Lee Cardera was taken into custody Thursday and held on $20,000 bail. He could face charges of embezzlement and passing a bad check, both felonies.

The 35-year-old resigned as head of the Pleasanton American Little League in December as officials began asking him about suspicious transactions in the league account.

Police say Cardera tried to repay the league by writing a personal $20,000 check, but there were insufficient funds to cover the amount.

It's not immediately known if he has a lawyer.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Former church treasurer charged with embezzlement in MIchigan

Former church treasurer Mary Lou Earl will face five counts of embezzlement, after an audit discovered $78,372 missing from the accounts of East Gilead Missionary Church over five years.
Earl, 57, formerly of Little Rose Lake, Ovid Township, was found in Muncie, Indiana, and returned to Branch County to face the four five-year felony charges. The fifth charge is a 10-year felony because the church is a non-profit organization. Bond was set at $100,000.

Earl had volunteered as the treasurer of the church at the corner of Southern and Block roads beginning in 2009, according to the court records. She was terminated Dec 13, 2013, after an audit raised questions about checks she had written from church accounts.

Branch County Sheriff's Office (BCSO) Det./Sgt. Dan Nichols began an investigation. He said when she was confronted, Earl admitted writing the checks for personal needs, as well as to “help other people.” None of the checks had been approved by the church officials.

The audit showed questionable checks were written by Earl each year in amounts that started with $5,183 in 2009 and ranged between $14,972 and $19, 804 each year until her services were terminated five years later.

Branch County District Court Judge Brent Weigle scheduled a probable cause and preliminary examination within the next 21 days. St Claire Shores attorney Jeffrey Maynard will represent Earl.


An elementary school PTA president has been arrested and charged with stealing money intended for children.

Heather Maloney, 36, was president of the Grady A. Brown Elementary School PTA in Orange County. She was arrested Jan. 26 and charged with embezzling more than $23,000.

According to the Orange County Sheriff, Maloney cashed dozens of checks between September and January.

"It was a shock, and it's been an emotional journey for all of us," said acting PTA president Wendy Hughes.

Hughes said no one was even aware it was happening until the bank notified them that their two accounts were completely drained.

The money was to be used for activities throughout the year including field trips and supplies for teachers. Now, parents are struggling to make ends meet.

"All this money, it's been over years and years that people have given to the PTA, fundraiser after fundraiser, and everything we do with that money is for our kids. Educational-wise we do stuff for our teachers, and so it's just heartbreaking," said PTA Vice President Penny King.

Maloney is out of jail on a $2,500 bond.

The Orange County district attorney is now taking over the case.

The money was to be used for field trips and supplies for teachers. Now, parents are struggling to make ends meet. An account for the PTA has been set up at Community One Bank.

There are three ways to donate:

Deposit donation directly to Community One Bank's Grady A. Brown PTA Cougar Cares account

Donate online:

Send cash or checks to the school made out to GAB PTA

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Va. Shore man guilty of selling school property on eBay

A former Northampton County School Board employee who said he “accidentally” sold items from the maintenance department on the Internet auction site eBay has pleaded guilty to misdemeanors as part of an agreement.

Shane Hunter Smith, 27, of Craddockville, was charged with embezzlement and attempted embezzlement. He took items from the school maintenance department where he worked as maintenance foreman and listed them for sale on eBay, said Commonwealth’s Attorney Bruce Jones.

Four items were sold and seven items were still listed, he said.

Jones identified the items as oil burner controls, water faucets, a power transformer and a safety switch.

Jones said he made the decision to reduce both charges to misdemeanors because he could not determine the monetary value of the items sold until he received a list that day.

“The defendant said he ‘accidentally’ posted the items sold on eBay,” said Jones. “He admitted the unsold items belonged to the school system.”

Jones said the value of the sold items was determined to be $503.47.

He said Smith had no previous criminal record, but said “even shoplifters in Northampton County get jail time.”

He called the plea agreement, “a pretty big break for Mr. Smith.” He called the crime “egregious” and “a breach of trust violated systematically and repeatedly.”

Defense attorney Thomas Northam said his client had no previous record and said Smith’s former and present employers spoke highly of him.

He asked that Smith receive a suspended sentence so “he can work and pay back the county.”

“You took property that didn’t belong to you from your employer,” said Judge W. Revell Lewis III. “I don’t think this is a case where a person should not see the inside of a jail.”

He sentenced Smith to six months on each of the two charges and suspended all but ten days on each.

“You will have 20 days to serve,” he told Smith. “You may serve it on weekends.”

He ordered Smith to pay restitution to the county.

BISD's Lambert says she is 'absolutely not guilty'

UPDATE: Patricia Lambert and Victoria Stweard have entered not guilty pleas to all charges against them. Both are free on $25,000 bonds.

A grand jury's indictments Wednesday of a former Beaumont ISD assistant superintendent and a former high-school teacher brought the number of people charged with federal crimes to 10 in an ongoing probe into a culture of corruption that plagued the district for years.

Former Assistant Super-intendent Patricia Adams Lambert embezzled more than $750,000 in BISD money by diverting business to a relative, using a high school booster club as a slush fund and stealing from students dual-enrolled in higher-education programs, federal prosecutors alleged Wednesday.

Along with former Central High School teacher Victoria Steward, Lambert also is accused of changing students' answers on high-stakes standardized tests over the course of five school years, affecting an entire generation of Central High students, U.S. Attorney John M. Bales said.

A grand jury yesterday hit Lambert on four counts of fraud on a program receiving federal funds and one count of conspiracy. Steward also was indicted on one count of conspiracy.

A fraud conviction carries a maximum sentence of 10 years. The maximum punishment for conspiracy is five years.

Court appearance

Lambert and Steward are scheduled to appear separately in federal court before Magistrate Judge Keith Giblin at 10:15 a.m. today.

Alphonso Anderson, a Houston-based attorney representing Lambert, did not respond to a message left at his office Wednesday afternoon.

Lake Charles-based attorney Todd S. Clemons, who is representing Steward, said his client has maintained her innocence for the year that he has represented her.

"(Steward) is not guilty of that one (charge), and I am going to vigorously defend her," Clemons said.

Steward, 31, is currently a high school teacher in Lake Charles, Clemons said.

Their indictments are the latest salvo in an ongoing investigation into BISD corruption that previously resulted in convictions of fraud against the district's highest-ranking financial officers, the president of West Brook High's booster club and a former warehouseman, his wife and a friend.

Criminal proceedings are pending in state court in the cases of former BISD contract electrician Calvin Walker and former purchasing agent Naomi Lawrence-Lee, who were indicted for felony theft and fraud, respectively, last year.

The Texas Education Agency in July 2014 replaced BISD's elected board of trustees with an appointed board of managers, who subsequently ousted Superintendent Timothy Chargois amid the budget crisis they inherited.

Lambert's rise and fall

Lambert, 60, retired from BISD last April amid allegations she took advantage of lax oversight to funnel hundreds of thousands to companies started by her son through no-bid purchases.

Federal prosecutors secured a fraud indictment on those allegations, asserting that Lambert assisted a "close family member" in becoming an authorized vendor. Lambert then directed that all printing work be done through two companies - "Designergy" and "Printica" - owned by that family member, the indictment says.

The relative, who was the vendors' only employee, would order the work done by local companies and mark up the price by as much as 300 percent before invoicing the district, the indictment says. In total, the scheme netted $480,000, prosecutors said.

Before joining BISD as a teacher in 2002, Lambert was convicted of extortion in Louisiana after accusations that she orchestrated a kick-back scheme with educators for whom she secured pay raises and job promotions, Jefferson County District Attorney Bob Wortham said.
Lambert rose rapidly through BISD's ranks. Two months after she was hired as a teacher, she became assistant principal at Vincent Middle School. Two years later, she was promoted to principal and assigned to French Middle School. In 2006, she was assigned to Central, and in 2012, she was promoted to assistant superintendent.

While at Central, Lambert took control of the school's booster club fund. She wrote checks from the club payable to her children, to cash and to herself, all of which were deposited in her personal account, the indictment alleges.

To build the club's fund, which was not subject to BISD oversight or auditing, Lambert diverted money from other accounts to the booster club, according to the charges. Other sources included fees students paid for transcripts and donations from private individuals or businesses for scholarship purposes, the indictment says.

Lambert is further accused of diverting fees students paid to enroll in dual-enrollment programs offered by Lamar Institute of Technology and the University of Texas. Aside from sending that money to the booster club fund, Lambert is accused of increasing the price of enrollment in the UT program from $275 per student per year to $1,000 per student per year, the indictment says.

"Additionally, Lambert often failed to reimburse BISD for the tuition costs," the indictment says.

Test score allegations

Those accusations are separate from charges that Lambert, with Steward, changed students' answers on state tests over a five-year period.

Lambert directed teachers to improve test scores "by any means necessary," the indictment says. Lambert organized meetings in which she and subordinates would change the answers, according to the indictment.

The scores are used to judge educators and school performance as well as to determine whether students can pass a grade,

Steward "did a large portion of the actual test changing" and recruited other teachers to assist her, the indictment says. Steward is accused of providing teachers with stacks of tests and answer keys. The teachers would erase incorrect answers and replace them with the correct responses, according to the indictment.

In 2013, a parent filed a lawsuit that claimed her child was unfairly denied becoming class salutatorian because Lambert manipulated grades. Lambert responded by saying the parent, a former Central High principal, had also manipulated grades.

Bales, the chief federal prosecutor, described grade and score manipulation as a "systemic" problem at Central High. Other teachers involved with changing the test scores are not likely to be prosecuted, he said, because he feels Lambert and Steward were "the decision-makers."

Investigation continues

A federal-state-local task force headed by Bales' office is continuing to investigate white-collar crime in BISD and elsewhere, but the chief prosecutor said he could not provide a list of targets or a timeline for more charges.

Texas Education Agency spokeswoman DeEta Culbertson said the state's investigation into BISD cheating allegations is ongoing. Generally, the state will not complete an investigation until legal proceedings are complete, she said.

Typically, in cases of teacher-involved cheating on standardized tests, the state will attempt to revoke a teacher's certification through the state board for educator certification, Culbertson said.

BISD spokesman Ron Reynolds said the current administration will cooperate with any further investigations into potential misconduct.

"BISD wants to assure parents that the educational programs for students will not be impacted throughout the pendency or outcome of the investigation," Reynolds said

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Ex-booster club treasurer pleads guilty to embezzlement

The former treasurer of the Carter High School Band Boosters Club pleaded guilty Tuesday to embezzling more than $33,000 from club funds.

Amy Michelle Sherrod, 39, pleaded guilty to felony theft at a hearing in Knox County Criminal Court. Judge Scott Green set an April 2 sentencing hearing at which she likely will seek probation and, possibly, judicial diversion. Diversion, if granted by Green, would keep the conviction off her record if she obeys the law during a probationary period.

Sherrod was charged by a sealed presentment handed up by a Knox County grand jury in September. Assistant District Attorney General Bill Bright sought the charge after a probe by the state Comptroller’s Office.

The embezzlement occurred between January 2012 and August 2013.

The comptroller’s report stated Sherrod stole at least $33,700 by issuing herself checks and then recording false and misleading entries in the club’s records to cover up her thievery.

Former parent-teacher organization treasurer sentenced for 'rather stunning' embezzlement

 A former parent-teacher council treasurer wept as she told a judge how sorry she was for wiping out the annual budget of the organization in a year-long embezzlement scheme.

But for the members of the Cannonsburg Elementary School support group, the tears and remorse are too little, too late and all they want from Shannon Marie Rosales is their $21,000 back.

Rosales, 35, told Kent County Circuit Court Judge Donald Johnston that she let her personal financial issues get in the way of her better judgement.

"I feel like I am a good person who has made a huge mistake," Rosales said as she wept in the courtroom on Tuesday, Feb. 3. "I am truly sorry."

Rosales said she has gotten a second job with the intention of paying back the money she admitted to taking between November 2013 and October 2014. She said she had $1,000 she was going to pay to the court the same day she is sentenced.

Rosales pleaded guilty to attempted embezzlement.

Members of the parent-teacher group said the money would be the first dime of they have received and the first statement of remorse from the woman who still shows her face at the school which her child attends.

"We are faced with starting over," said PTC president Jessie Challa, who spoke during the hearing. "Our entire annual budget was taken by someone we thought we could

Challa said the loss of funds meant that the organization had to cancel field trip transportation, cancel assemblies, forego technology improvements and curtail activities for the students of the smallest of Rockford's elementary schools.

The money was taken in varying amounts often using an ATM to get cash which PTC members say was spent on frivolous pursuits.

Challa told the judge that while the members of the PTC had varying opinions about jail time, they agreed that the most important thing is getting the money paid back.

Johnston said that while the crime committed by Rosales was "rather stunning" and tantamount to stealing from the church poor-box, three months in jail as called for by the state sentencing guideline would not make a lot of sense.

"While locking you up would make us feel better by seeing you walk out with the sheriff, it would not serve our goal," Johnston said.

Johnston placed Rosales on five years of probation and ordered her to pay back the money with timely installments or face 45 days in jail.

After the hearing, members of the PTC were not exactly happy, but satisfied that there is a mechanism in place to get them their money back, even though that money will not be there in time to benefit the students who worked so hard to raise it and are now
suffering because of the broken trust of an adult who was supposed to be looking out for them.

Principal, teacher face felony embezzlement charges in Caswell County for pawning school property

Two women, including the principal at Bartlett Yancey High School, were arrested after the Caswell County School superintendent filed a report regarding stolen school property.
Emily Elizabeth Hill, 25, and Precilla Jean Stone, 46, both of Danville, Va.,  were arrested for felony embezzlement.
Investigators first found that Hill was selling property, belonging to the Caswell County Board of Education, to a local pawn shop.
That led them to discover that other property from the school system was being sold at the same pawn shop.
Police said the two were pawning computers. One pawned three computers and the other took one computer and an iPad from various county schools.
Hill faces charges for one count of felony embezzlement and one count of felony larceny. Her bond was set at $2,000 and her first court date is set for Feb. 11 in Caswell County District Court.
Caswell County Sheriff’s Capt. Frank Rose confirmed Hill is a teacher at an alternative school in Caswell County.
Stone, principal at Bartlett Yancey High, faces charges for seven counts of felony embezzlement. Her bond was set at $15,000 and she is scheduled to appear in Caswell County District Court Feb. 18.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Social Worker Killed to Cover Up School Embezzlement

In a case that Philadelphia police say has left them "angry and confounded," a social worker allegedly gunned down a colleague in broad daylight after she discovered that he had embezzled tens of thousands of dollars from an after-school outreach program. Police say Randolph Sanders has confessed to killing Kim Jones on the morning of Jan. 13 before she boarded a bus on her way to report the theft to the Department of Human Services, NBC Philadelphia reports. He was the assistant director of Turning Points for Children, and Jones, who hired him two years ago, was the program director. The day after the murder, Sanders told WPVI that he and his colleagues were "just stunned" by the killing.

Sanders covered his face with a cap and was careful not to look at security cameras while walking to and from the crime scene, police say, but he was arrested after surveillance footage led investigators to his SUV. Jones, 56, ran programs that helped low-income families work with schools to boost their children's grades. Police believe Sanders was stealing gift cards meant for the families. One of Jones' two adult sons says Sanders shook his hand and looked him in the eye at her funeral, the Philadelphia Inquirer reports. "I now put my faith in our justice system to truly give him what he deserves for murdering a respected, generous, loved, and selfless woman [who] did nothing but try to help people," the son says.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Raleigh man accused of embezzling $44K from school for children with autism

A Raleigh man was arrested Thursday on a charge that he stole more than $44,000 from a Cary school that helps children with developmental disorders.

Charles Scott Hall, 31, of 1251 Goode St., faces a felony charge of embezzlement for allegedly stealing the money from the nonprofit Mariposa School for Children with Autism between May 1 and Jan. 15.

The school declined to comment on the arrest and would not say in what capacity Hall was employed.

According to court records, Hall was arrested in both November and December on charges of forgery.

He was listed as being in the Wake County Detention Center Friday afternoon under a $30,000 secured bond.

Hart district institutes booster club changes as Snyder faces charges

While former Valencia High School varsity baseball coach Jared Snyder faces felony charges he embezzled money from the school and from a booster club, officials say they are continuing to examine ways to tighten oversight of fundraising efforts in the William S. Hart Union High School District.

Hart district officials began reviewing the district’s fundraising programs last spring, according to Michael Vierra, the district’s assistant superintendent of human resources. 

Snyder was placed on administrative leave in May after questions arose about the finances of the Valencia Diamond Club — the baseball team’s booster club.

Vierra said Friday the district has recently created a new audit position, which will have the responsibility to scrutinize fundraising activity and make sure “that everyone does things the right way.”

Additionally, the district is providing training to those who could be involved in fundraising, he said.

Board member Gloria Mercado-Fortine said those outreach and education efforts should extend to the community, as well.

“We need to provide a more structured type of training to parents and to the community,” she said Friday. “We certainly do not want to discourage their support and enthusiasm, but we really need to train them and educate them on what they need to do.”

Hart district board members said the district is also reviewing booster clubs and compiling a list that would make clear the booster clubs that are “following the policies and controls so parents can look and see whether or not the organizations their children are involved or engaged in are reviewed,” according to board member Steve Sturgeon.

Sturgeon said Friday such efforts have been in the works a few years, stemming back to some issues the district has run into with its Associated Student Body groups.

“Fundamentally, we had a continuing repetition of audit comments related to ASBs,” he said. “So, over time, we have attempted to provide tighter controls.”

Snyder, the former baseball coach, faces seven felony counts alleging he embezzled between $10,000 and $15,000 from the school and the baseball booster club over a six-year period.

Snyder, who was put on leave in May and resigned Dec. 3, was charged earlier this month with one count each of misappropriation, embezzlement by a public officer, embezzlement by a private officer, and four counts of grand theft. He has pleaded not guilty.

The Snyder situation led to questions about booster clubs in the Hart district. Some booster clubs are set up as 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations, while others maintain private accounts.

More changes in booster club policy or practice could still be made, as Vierra said the district has worked to develop “a preferred approach that allows for best practices, including checks and balances and oversight.”

“I think we’re always looking at ways to improve,” he said.