Mother of the Groom

***READER DISCRETION IS ADVISED***

True-crime research, novel writing research, and updates. Posts about real school tragedy, crime, and/or events can be upsetting.

Robin Lyons, author websiteWe’ve all been approached by a relative or neighbor child about purchasing something for a school fundraiser. Schools are forced to be creative in finding other sources of revenue because they are underfunded by the state and federal government.

When you read about a school employee mishandling the money, it adds insult to injury.

BLOG POST #219: This week, I’m sharing research on a specific crime involving an elected county superintendent of schools.

The superintendent’s four-year extended contract with annual salary increases was approved by a 3-2 vote. There’s a message in a split vote for a contract renewal.

Then four out of five school board members were replaced. Three won their seats through an election—one was selected to replace a member who unexpectedly died.

The new board made their opinions known when they tried to reduce the  superintendent’s previously approved four-year contract to one-year.

During the contract renegotiating, it was learned an investigation into the county board of education’s finances had begun.

Shortly after, the superintendent announced she was retiring. The school board agreed to pay her for an additional two months to buy out the remainder of her four-year contract.

Through the investigation, the Grand Jury learned, the superintendent had been selling electronic devices purchased through the county schools. She sold the items through online auctions, on eBay, or gifted them to relatives.

She misjudged her teachers and used them by stating the devices had been purchased for them—they testified to the contrary.

If selling the items purchased with county education money for profit wasn’t bad enough, she also used purchase orders to buy decorations for her son’s wedding. Nothing that a school would conceivably use, such as bread baskets, beverages dispensers, urns, columns, pedestals, etc. Following the wedding, the items were split between the superintendent and her son’s wedding planner.

After her arrest, she went to trial. The jury found her guilty of wire fraud, theft, mail fraud, and aggravated identity theft.

The judge sentenced her to 42 months in federal prison, followed with three years of supervised release. Her state pension is suspending while incarcerated.

In comparison to other fraud cases against school employees, this case didn’t give the superintendent a big dollar payout. But still, her actions were corrupt. The value of what she stole totaled a little over $25,000.

The judge in her case said, “It is a serious breach of public trust.” And the U.S. Attorney said, “The defendant’s sentence is another signal of my commitment to punish public corruption.”

Worth Mentioning: Did you know you can help your child’s teacher or any teacher for that matter by purchasing items from their Classroom Wish List on Amazon? Ask them for their Amazon Classroom Wish List link. You’ll help them to #clearthelist. Here’s an article about the Clear the List campaign.

What are your thoughts about this case? Join the conversation on the website. We talk about the sensitive subject of crimes occurring at or connected to schools.

Do you know of a school crime you’d like to share? Email me so we can discuss the details.

Thanks for reading!

-Robin

Source: Charleston Gazette-Mail, U.S. Court of West Virginia, U.S. Dept. of Justice

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