Theft of funds belong to the public is a serious crime regardless of the amount of money involved. The Pennsylvania attorney general has charged a former superintendent of the Mid-Valley School District with embezzling public funds of almost $12,000.
The attorney general’s office began its investigation in March 2015 after the case was referred by the Lackawanna County district attorney’s office. The attorney general’s investigation was based in part on an earlier internal audit and investigation conducted by the school district.
According to the criminal complaint released by the attorney general’s office, the defendant used a gas and credit card issued by the school district to pay for personal activities and purchases, including gift cards, magazine subscriptions and clothing. The defendant also persuaded five school district employees to sign blank documents so that he could file a false trip report and keep the reimbursement. That money was allegedly used to take the defendant, his family and some friends to a Penn State football game. The defendant is also charged with taking money from a school athletic fund. In all, the defendant is charged with 12 counts of forgery, four counts of filing false reports, two counts of misapplication of property held in trust, and one count each of theft, theft by deception, receiving stolen property and official oppression. The case will be prosecuted by the Senior Deputy Attorney General.
Being charged with a crime is not the same as conviction. The defendant is entitled to a presumption that he is innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. Nevertheless, charges of this nature can significantly damage a person’s reputation, even if the final outcome is a verdict of innocence. A person facing such charges could benefit from a consultation with an experienced criminal defense attorney. A lawyer who handles such cases can provide a helpful analysis of the facts, an explanation of possible penalties and an estimate of the probability of a favorable plea agreement or an outright acquittal.
Source: Wilkes-Barre Times-Leader, “Former Lackawanna County school superintendent charged with misappropriating $11K in school funds,” July 22, 2015