ATHENS, Ga. -- Federal authorities soon will decide whether to extradite a former Winterville Elementary School principal who is wanted for embezzling thousands of dollars from an after-school program and recently surfaced in the Caribbean.
U.S. Attorney G.F. "Pete" Peterman on Tuesday disputed news accounts in Trinidad and Tobago that the U.S. government had indicated it would not try to extradite 64-year-old Yvonne John-Daniels from the island nation where she's worked as a university professor under a different name since 2007.
"No final decision has been made at this time, though we anticipate a decision will be made in the very near future," Peterman said.
John-Daniels disappeared after she abruptly resigned as principal of Winterville Elementary in December 2005 amid allegations by Clarke County School District officials that she may have misappropriated up to $155,000 in school funds.
A federal grand jury indicted her in May on charges she diverted funds from an after-school program to go shopping and pay her cell phone bills.
Between June and December 2005, the indictment states, she used school district debit cards to pay $1,762 in cell phone bills and embezzled "in excess of $5,000" from the Winterville Elementary after-school program.
The indictment charges her with three counts of wire fraud and one count of theft from an organization receiving federal funds.
Authorities issued a federal arrest warrant after court summonses sent to her addresses in Athens and Buford were returned as undeliverable.
A professor at the University of Trinidad and Tobago told the Banner-Herald last week that John-Daniels was arrested by local authorities July 30, days after a colleague found a 2007 story about the Winterville Elementary scandal on the Internet and faxed it to police.
John-Daniels, an associate professor and administrator of one of UTT's campuses, was hired by UTT in 2007 under her maiden name of Yvonne Julie John.
Local police held John-Daniels for several hours and released her the same day, a spokeswoman for the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service said.
Peterman said a local newspaper, the Trinidad Express, was wrong when it reported that U.S. government officials told Trinidad police that they would not try to extradite John-Daniels.
Any decision to bring her back to the United States for prosecution will involve "several factors," including discussions with the U.S. Secret Service, which investigated the alleged school embezzlement, Peterman said.
Following her arrest in Trinidad, John-Daniels was placed on administrative leave pending an internal investigation by the university, according to Al Salandy, assistant to UTT's acting president, Ramesh Deosaran.
John-Daniels, a native of Trinidad who holds dual U.S. citizenship, has a bachelor's degree in economics and computer science from the University of the West Indies and a master's degree in special education from the University of Miami.
She served as an assistant principal for Miami-Dade County Public Schools, taught special education in Gwinnett County and in 2003 was named assistant principal of Chase Street Elementary School in Athens.
Later that year, John-Daniels became interim principal at Winterville Elementary, then principal the next year.