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Two accountants from Florida schools stole more than $270,000

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After $278,000 embezzled, Brevard schools in Florida consider centralizing finances.

In 2007, money started disappearing from Southwest Middle School.

7 years later more than $100,000 was missing. It wasn’t until the principal noticed irregularities and an internal audit revealed the problem: the bookkeeper. Natalie Jean Jones had been stealing money bit by bit for seven years, forging more than 100 checks before she was arrested and sentenced to 7 years in prison.

A few years later, another bookkeeper of Brevard Public Schools was caught doing, allegedly, the same thing. Over the course of two years, police say Patricia Coleman embezzled $170,000 from Eau Gallie High School.

“Situations like at Brevard Schools bring light to this fact that we have some gaps to protect our assets,” said Desmond Blackburn, Superintendent.

School hired a “bona fide” CFO Pennie Zuercher who joined to audit the existing system.  According to Zuercher, under the current accounting system at the schools one person does everything. For years, both bookkeepers eluded auditors’ suspicions – all the more reason, to get all the accounts in the same place and implement more oversight.

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  • April 3, 2018

A former school CFO used armored truck for stealing $600,000

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Former CFO of Grand Prairie schools gets 37 months in federal prison.

Caroline Foster, 63, used armored trucks to steal  $600,000 from the district. Foster ordered the money withdrawn from district bank accounts and delivered by armored truck to the district offices. She told employees the money was for special cash awards for teachers and for settlements in lawsuits.

Foster was arrested by U.S. Secret Service special agents at her new work where she was the director of finance.

U.S. District Judge Jane Boyle gave Foster the maximum punishment within the sentencing guidelines. Boyle said Foster did not show remorse, and she called her conduct “horrendous.”

Burke Hall, a member of the district’s board of trustees, said the district is “disgusted” by Foster’s actions. “Trust is everything in a public school district,” noted Hall.

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  • April 3, 2018

A Florida couple was sentenced after stealing money for school band trip to Japan

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A Florida couple accused of stealing money for a school band trip to Japan has been indicted in San Diego on charges including theft and embezzlement.

Bradley Matheson, 52, and Margaret Matheson, 43, who operated together under the business name Harmony International, were accused of causing $99,000 in losses to 68 victims.

In December 2014 Bradley Matheson met with a high school band director in California and offered to arrange a band trip to Japan. In January 2016 he provided detailed brochure. The trip ran $3,687 per person.

Students from San Marcos High School, Del Norte High School, Eastlake High School and Mission Hills High School had signed up to participate in the trip and made payments.

Trip was planned for mid July 2016. In April 2016, the Mathesons sent an email to parents telling them that the trip was canceled. In May their attorney told parents at a school meeting that the company had filed bankruptcy and could not refund their money.

Bradley Matheson was arrested in Miami in November 2016. Later, warrant was issued for his wife. Each admitted to a felony count of embezzlement and two felony counts that they violated California law by failing to maintain passenger funds in a trust account, then failing to give refunds.

The Matheson’s were sentenced to two years in jail and ordered to pay nearly $70,000 in restitution.

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  • April 3, 2018

High school band money was stolen by a former school CFO

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Anna Munson, 45, a former CFO of Columbia Public Schools also served as the Marquette High School band booster club’s treasurer.

Munson withdrew at least $17,500 from ATMs without documenting the transactions. Police say Munson wrote at least one $1,000 check to herself and made several fraudulent purchases using the club’s credit card.

The boosters group previously had more than one treasurer serving at the same time. “But Munson convinced the band director to allow her to be the sole treasurer of the group,” police say.

Discrepancies were noticed after Munson was replaced in 2016. School officials said she didn’t respond to requests to explain the discrepancies.

Anna Munson was respected school official. She oversaw federal grants for St. Louis Public Schools. She also worked at the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, where she focused on special education compliance.

“She is well respected by CFOs across the state and we’re excited to have her become a part of the team,” Superintendent Peter Stiepleman said when she was hired.

A warrant for her arrest was issued March 9 2018, and she is currently free on $30,000 bond.

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  • April 3, 2018

Nearly $700,000 was embezzled from a nonprofit in California by it’s founder

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Lolita Garcia, 57, in 2008 founded a nonprofit Central Coast Kids & Families for children with disabilities and special needs. She was booked into jail on charges of embezzlement, money laundering, and tax evasion.

Monterey County prosecutor Emily Hickock says Garcia allegedly embezzled over $675,000 of the charity’s funds. She spent money on a Porsche, a diamond Rolex watch, Louis Vuitton purses, personal apparel, travel.

In 2012, the organization brought in a revenue of just over $1 million for providing “support for 434 special needs and medically fragile students,” according to tax filings. The filings show no record of any donation made to the charity during the available period from 2008 to 2012.

As per prosecutors, embezzlement was made during 2013 – 2015 and the center was operating as a nonprofit. Garcia changed it to a for-profit the following year.

Theft was uncovered when a CPA was preparing delinquent tax returns for Central Coast Kids and Families. He saw transactions that he thought were problematic and reported it to the State Attorney General’s Office.

After her arrest, she was booked in the Santa Cruz County Jail and was released on bail the same day. Her defense attorney John Conigliosaid, “Ms. Garcia does very special work helping kids who face significant challenges.”

Monterey Superior Court pursuant to the aggravated white collar crime statute, which freezes assets owned and controlled by Garcia. It preserves such assets for purposes of fines and restitution during the pendency of legal proceedings.

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  • April 3, 2018

Booster Club Treasurer who stole nearly $800,000

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A former employee of Perrysburg Schools in Ohio was sentenced for embezzling funds of district and booster club.

Eric Whitson, the ex-treasurer of the Bowling Green Bobcat Athletic Boosters Club, will serve 10 years in prison.

Whitson pleaded guilty to 11 counts on which he was indicted,including 4 third-degree felony counts of theft in office; 2 counts of aggravated theft, 2 third-degree counts of money laundering, etc. Whitson was arrested on charges that he wrote checks from the schools to repay money that he stole from the Bowling Green club.

Linda Markey, concessions representative said: “It will take a lot more than an apology from Whitson to repair the damage.” In her 12 years of overseeing the boosters’ concessions, Markey worked closely with Whitson from the start of his volunteer work. “Many times he would volunteer to help and say ‘I’m going to the bank anyway, so I’d hand him bags full of cash,” said Markey.

Whitson has to pay back $798,271 in restitution.

Ohio Auditor of State Dave Yost released a statement saying he approves Whitson’s sentence: “Ten years is hard time by anyone’s standards. But in the case of this huge theft, the sentence fits the crime.”

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  • March 30, 2018

Two cases of the PTA money embezzlement in Virginia

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Virginia PTA official faces embezzlement charges.

Christina Saunders, 33, was charged with stealing about $7,000 from Matoaca Elementary School’s PTA. Saunders served as the PTA’s president and allegedly took the money between Oct. 2017 and Jan. 2018.

Records pulled from the state’s online courts database reveal that Saunders had previous run-ins with the law.

Saunders’ case is the second PTA member charged with embezzling funds recently. Last year, Jessica L. Yeakey, 40,  was charged with three counts of theft of $2,800 from Elizabeth Scott Elementary School’s PTA. PTA members contacted Chesterfield County Council PTA to conduct an audit which revealed financial mismanagement.

CCCPTA supports and provides resources to the school-level groups, but doesn’t oversee their operations. To deter embezzlement, CCCPTA recommends two signers on all checks, as well as providing monthly treasurer’s reports and bank statements to each school’s PTA.

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  • March 30, 2018

$210,000 was stolen by a school employee in Pennsylvania to support her gambling habit

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A former employee of the William Penn School District allegedly stole more than $210,000 from district employee’s union.

Rose Mary Lyons stole money to support her gambling habit. Later she replaced some of the stolen funds with gambling winnings and other means, including stolen checks made payable to the school district and IRS refunds apparently belonging to people for whom she prepared income tax returns.

Lyons, 52, has charged with felony theft by deception, theft by unlawful taking, receiving stolen property between July of 2009 and December of 2015. During this period of time Lyons was serving as president and recording secretary of the William Penn Education Support Personnel Association. Two members of the WPESPA initially discovered a misappropriation of funds. They filed a report with the Lansdowne Police Department back on Jan. 14, 2016.

Lyons made 211 unauthorized deposits totaling $179,700.91 into the association’s bank account plus few more made later.

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  • March 29, 2018