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  • Writer's pictureRobin Lyons

Mother of the Groom

Because public schools are underfunded by the state and federal government, they are forced to be creative in finding other sources of revenue. When you hear about a school employee mishandling school money—as in this true-crime case—it adds insult to injury.

The school board extended the superintendent’s four-year contract with annual salary increases by a split 3-2 vote. Having been an elected school board member, I can tell you there’s a hidden message in a split vote on contract renewals.

After the contract renewal, the school board learned of an investigation into the county board of education's finances.

Shortly after the investigation became known, the superintendent announced her retirement. The school board agreed to pay her for an additional two months’ salary to buy out the remainder of her four-year contract.

Through the investigation, the Grand Jury learned that the retired superintendent had been selling electronic devices purchased for teachers 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 electronics that the school had purchased for personal gain wasn’t bad enough, she also used school 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. A jury found her guilty of wire fraud, theft, mail fraud, and aggravated identity theft.

A U.S. Attorney associated with the case said,

“The defendant’s sentence is another signal of my commitment to punish public corruption.”

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

The judge in her case said,

“It is a serious breach of public trust.”

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. Does that seem worth spending almost four years in a federal prison?

Worth Mentioning: Did you know you can help teachers by purchasing classroom supplies from their Classroom Wish List on Amazon? Ask them for their Amazon Classroom Wish List link.

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

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