Friday, February 13, 2015

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.

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