When charter school director Bette Jeppson sat down with an accountant last March, she expected to get a few tips on how the school could improve its bookkeeping and finances.
What she got instead was a litany of illegal transactions by the school's business manager that drained resources to the point the school was forced to cut back in educational spending, making it one of two Southern Arizona charter schools to come under investigation by the Arizona attorney general for financial improprieties.
For example, Jeppson didn't expect to learn business manager Keri Gall had given herself a 29 percent raise and was making 40 percent more than she herself was.
Or that the manager had used the school's credit cards to buy a $1,000 boxer, designer clothes, manicures, groceries and items used to remodel her home.
Jeppson was even more stunned to learn the manager hadn't been depositing money into teachers' IRAs and even forced one to pay her own health insurance...
Instead, Jeppson found out that morning Gall had been writing checks to herself and fixing the books, plus misusing the credit cards...
Originally charged with one count of fraud and four counts of theft, Gall pleaded guilty to one count of theft. She was also ordered to pay $150,280 in restitution at no less than $500 a month.
Authorities can prove Gall stole $128,000 between Jan. 1, 2007 and March 23, 2011; the K-8 school couldn't afford to dig back to her 2003 starting date...
Gall is not the only charter school employee to end up before a judge in recent months...[SEE entry for The Pima Partnership School]
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“2 charter schools struck by thefts.” Arizona Daily Star, 1/1/2012