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Woman and her mother accused of stealing school district funds

A woman and her mother are accused of felonies resulting in the theft of approximately $565,000 from two New Jersey school districts. Authorities claim that they falsely authorized payments from district funds to bus companies which did not exist. The 39-year-old woman worked as a supervisor and transportation manager for the Hazlet and Piscataway school districts.

Starting in 2006, investigators say, the school district employee used the school district's computer system to create an entry for a new transportation vendor, then issued checks to the false company for transportation services that were never provided.

Her mother is accused of endorsing many of the issued checks, which were then placed in a bank account the women opened. Both women were arrested and face criminal charges of second-degree theft by unlawful disposition or taking.

The half a million dollars the defendants are accused of taking was divided between the Piscataway district, where $336,570 is missing, and the Hazlet school district, where a lesser $229,202 is said to have been taken. Authorities say that the discrepancies were recently discovered by a Piscataway school district employee who stumbled onto a number of the suspicious invoices. After the discrepancy was reported, an internal audit uncovered further irregularities.

The local Attorney General accused the two women, stating that she was "aggressively targeting officials who betray the public's trust and steal taxpayer dollars."

Stealing from schoolchildren is a terrible crime, but in our anger we should not be too quick to apply blame. Stories in the media that identify suspects, describe the crimes they are accused of and interview their accusers lead the reader to believe the suspects are guilty, when in fact that may not be true. All suspects are innocent until proven guilty, and accusatory rhetoric in the media makes it more difficult for those accused of crimes to defend their innocence.

Source:, "Former N.J. school official, mother charged with stealing $565K," Oct. 11, 2012.

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