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Ex-bookkeeper arrested in theft

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A former Freedom Park Elementary School bookkeeper has been arrested on charges she took school money.

Coleman
Coleman

Toya Coleman, 31, was charged Thursday with two felony counts of first-degree forgery and one felony count of theft by taking.

The case of a former Glenn Hills High School bookkeeper, who resigned over missing school money, prompted an audit of every Richmond County public high school. It found several shortcomings in each school's accounting practices, Superintendent Dr. Frank Roberson announced during a 45-minute news conference Thursday afternoon.

Lt. Richard Roundtree of the Richmond County School System's Department of School Safety said an internal audit of Freedom Park, where Coleman was bookkeeper for two years before resigning in June, showed that she had taken more than $3,000.

The two forgery counts relate to two checks for less than $500 each that Coleman cashed from school funds, forging the principal's signature, Roundtree said. The theft count stems from her stealing more than $3,000 in cash that was raised during a school book fair, said Linda LaMarr, the school district's internal auditor.

Roundtree said both the internal audit and criminal investigation continue. Roberson said during the news conference that he wants to finish the investigation into Freedom Park, which has a total of $24,000 unaccounted for from the 2008-09 and 2009-10 fiscal years, by Dec. 10.

Roundtree said it is possible more charges might be brought against Coleman or other individuals.

Roberson also announced that Freedom Park Principal Rita Bradley will become assistant principal of Butler High School, and Pauline Andrews, an assistant principal at Butler, will become interim principal at Freedom Park. Those changes will take place Nov. 29.

Roberson stressed that there is no evidence that points to any financial wrongdoing by Bradley, but fiscal accountability, the superintendent said, is a primary duty of any principal.

"We aim to take our responsibility of being better than good stewards of public funds seriously," Roberson said in explaining the change.

Roberson added that he met with Freedom Park parents Wednesday evening.

"They issued an appeal to have her return to the school if it is discovered -- and at this point, we don't have any evidence to suggest that any of the dollars are in her possession," he said.

Roberson said the Freedom Park principal's job will be advertised in February, and Andrews will have the opportunity to apply for it, along with other internal and external candidates. Bradley will be in the assistant principal job at Butler High permanently, so long as the investigation does not implicate her in any wrongdoing.

He also announced the results of an audit of every Richmond County public high school. It showed that every school had at least two problems with its fiscal accounting practices in the 2009-10 school year.

That audit was done in response to an incident last year involving a former bookkeeper at Glenn Hills High, who resigned after $14,417 in student activities money went missing. Bridgette Thompkins was not charged and was allowed to pay the money back. The principal, Wayne Frazier, was suspended for 10 days without pay in connection with the incident and given a letter of reprimand.

Glenn Hills had the most problems, in 10 of 14 areas, the high school audits found. Laney High had the fewest, with problems in two areas.

Roberson said the district will now require every school to submit an assurance form every 30 days certifying that the school has followed all accounting standards. The principal and bookkeeper of each school will have to sign the form.

"The assurances will be submitted at each 30-day interval to the internal audit department -- without exception -- and reviewed by the respective executive director," he said. "Any accounting issue, as it relates to the standards, will be brought to the attention of the superintendent immediately."

Comments (44) Add comment
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bettyboop
8
Points
bettyboop 11/18/10 - 10:06 am
0
0
Here we

Here we go.........................

stillamazed
1488
Points
stillamazed 11/18/10 - 10:13 am
0
0
No big surprise.....they can

No big surprise.....they can expect to get caught eventually. The state and the governement needs to be alot more selective about who they hire. I personally work with a bunch of sorry, lazy people with no work ethic at all, and you can't get rid of them...

Taylor B
5
Points
Taylor B 11/18/10 - 11:38 am
0
0
Somebody is looking for a

Somebody is looking for a promotion!

Little Lamb
49247
Points
Little Lamb 11/18/10 - 12:05 pm
0
0
Sometimes it's the one who

Sometimes it's the one who screws up who moves up!

SRVaughn5490
0
Points
SRVaughn5490 11/18/10 - 04:05 pm
0
0
Check out her shirt ... they

Check out her shirt ... they better check their books as well!

Sweet son
11762
Points
Sweet son 11/18/10 - 04:09 pm
0
0
Didn't Roundtree have

Didn't Roundtree have difficulties at the Sheriff's office before he went to the "board". Probably needed a move up. Right, L Lamb? Move 'em somewhere else in the Richmond system and make 'em look good!?!?! Go figure!! I need some Christmas money. Maybe the "govment" will hire me.

justbeasy
0
Points
justbeasy 11/18/10 - 04:10 pm
0
0
Wait a minute, you demote

Wait a minute, you demote Rita Bradley, but give Tonethia Beasley a lateral job placement....does not sound right at all. Did we talk to Bradley about her family and where she would be best fit in the system, like we did for Beasley.

AugustaVoter
2
Points
AugustaVoter 11/18/10 - 04:19 pm
0
0
Why wasn't this lady allowed

Why wasn't this lady allowed to pay back the system like the other bookkeeper? She must not have made any under the table deals (or desks) with tree.

AugustaVoter
2
Points
AugustaVoter 11/18/10 - 04:25 pm
0
0
Something sounds very

Something sounds very suspicious about the promotion/ demotion. Mrs. Andrews has been promoted from a 7th grade Social Studies teacher to interim Principal. in less than 3 years! She was promoted from Morgan Rd to Instructional coach at Butler in during 08-09. She was promoted at the beginning of 09-10 to Asst. Principal at Butler. Now she is given the interim principal job at Freedom Park after being an AP for less than 1 1/2 years? I think an investigation needs to be conducted, something sounds corrupt!

AugustaVoter
2
Points
AugustaVoter 11/18/10 - 04:26 pm
0
0
I believe Mrs. Andrews

I believe Mrs. Andrews husband and Mr. Thompson were frat bros in college. May have something to do with it....

AugustaVoter
2
Points
AugustaVoter 11/18/10 - 04:28 pm
0
0
Also I am glad to see they

Also I am glad to see they are putting so much effort into investigating this when they don't do thorough investigations of their own officers! Way to go "Grateful Mother"!

corgimom
38742
Points
corgimom 11/18/10 - 04:31 pm
0
0
Why was she arrested and the

Why was she arrested and the Glenn Hills bookkeeper was not, when the crimes are identical?

I guess when the principal knows about it, it's ok, and when the principal doesn't know about it, that's the tipping point.

bettyboop
8
Points
bettyboop 11/18/10 - 06:42 pm
0
0
Sounds like a complete

Sounds like a complete house-cleaning of all RC school personal needed....oh..but wait!! Wouldn't that bring in the watch-dogs from the "They who must not be named?" group....who protect these criminals that steal from kids.............??(their own kids!!) What say you justus?

dani
13
Points
dani 11/18/10 - 05:00 pm
0
0
And - Government employees

And - Government employees never get the same punishment as those in the private sector it seems. Something about these guv'mint jobs...hmm

CarlA
114
Points
CarlA 11/18/10 - 05:04 pm
0
0
Freedom Park is the

Freedom Park is the elementary school located on post at Ft. Gordon, which exclusively serves the children of military families living on post. What a shame!

DAMY46
0
Points
DAMY46 11/18/10 - 07:06 pm
0
0
Wait a sec...A few months ago

Wait a sec...A few months ago the bookkeeper at Glenn Hills High took $14,300 and she was not charged (she got to pay it back)..Now, they want to bring Ms. Coleman up on charges?---Can we say --'double standards'.....What gives?..Donald

Indigo
4
Points
Indigo 11/18/10 - 07:07 pm
0
0
Good for Roberson in making

Good for Roberson in making the principals responsible for their respective schools.

mystery30815
18
Points
mystery30815 11/18/10 - 07:37 pm
0
0
Each incident happened under

Each incident happened under a different superintendent, hence, different outcome.

Boogaloo
1
Points
Boogaloo 11/18/10 - 07:38 pm
0
0
Well, I have heard from a

Well, I have heard from a person that is close to the scene that there may also be an MP involved who has been stealing stuff as well, like video cards and possibly a laptop. I reckon the details will come out sooner or later. Dr Roberson has inherited quite a mess but from what I hear he will sort it out.

luckie
2
Points
luckie 11/18/10 - 07:44 pm
0
0
The county also needs to look

The county also needs to look at PTA's. No purchases should be allowed after the last day of school if there is a new executive board. Completions of audits should be done in a timely manner or schools should be fined or reprimanded and reported the the superintendant.

chascush
0
Points
chascush 11/18/10 - 08:24 pm
0
0
She will get a slap on her

She will get a slap on her hand and will be on the welfare program within a couple of days.

chascush
0
Points
chascush 11/18/10 - 08:26 pm
0
0
What do you folks expect

What do you folks expect after all this is RC.

Crabby Appleton
0
Points
Crabby Appleton 11/18/10 - 08:34 pm
0
0
I agree that no double

I agree that no double standards should exist, but regardless you steal from taxpayers in felony status, they should require restitution as well as to serve the appropriate penalty called for by law.
Acutally, the School board/supt/principals should have NO discretion whether or not to prosecute. IT"S NOT THEIR MONEY!!!! It should just be standard policy.

tuffenuf4u
0
Points
tuffenuf4u 11/18/10 - 09:20 pm
0
0
Well we know for sure she

Well we know for sure she allegedly took $3000 cash, but we are not told the amount of the checks that she forged the principal's signature to. If she gets a good criminal defense attorney, and has no prior convictions, she will probably get a slap on the wrist. She does have a case of precedence to fall back on here, because they did not prosecute the woman who took a lot more than she has, so that should weigh in her defense. I am not condoning her actions, but one should not be put on the guillotine while another eats filet mignon for the same crime.

Whim
4
Points
Whim 11/18/10 - 11:30 pm
0
0
I agree that the bookkeeper

I agree that the bookkeeper from Glenn Hills should have been prosecuted as well, but that decision was made under someone else's watch, not Dr. Robinson's. I applaud him for doing the right thing in this case.

gijoe7898
0
Points
gijoe7898 11/19/10 - 03:15 am
0
0
These thieves have

These thieves have supervisors. Richmond county tax payers, I would hope you raise hell about the highly paid supervisors failing to meet their job performance standards THAT YOU PAY THEM TO DO! Any position that handles money has got to have oversight. This is your money Richmond county.

Get on your council persons. The principal that had supervison of this accused is now promoted! The Glenn Hills incident was handled with kid gloves! This is YOUR GOVERNMENT, paid for by YOU! Make them accountable to YOU.

Martinez
154
Points
Martinez 11/19/10 - 05:31 am
0
0
Coleman's crime, not being

Coleman's crime, not being related to the right people. It seems punishment or lack thereof and promotions or demotions are really driven more by who you know. When you hire based on the same criteria, rather then selecting the most qualified and experienced candidate for a job - you can't be surprised when the individuals don't perform.

dani
13
Points
dani 11/19/10 - 06:01 am
0
0
I should hope the woman gets

I should hope the woman gets more than a slap on the wrist. Forgery is a felony and punishable as such.

johnston.cliff
2
Points
johnston.cliff 11/19/10 - 07:00 am
0
0
As a nation, we've spent a

As a nation, we've spent a generation (or more) stressing that there is no personal responsibility or personal accountability and several generations developing a subculture that has no respect for anything and responsibility isn't even in their dialect.
How can anyone be surprised with this type of situation within a government entity that operates on free money?

JustMe
0
Points
JustMe 11/19/10 - 07:20 am
0
0
Glad to here that Roberson is

Glad to here that Roberson is on top of things. If you were ever a supervisor that did hiring you would know that it is not as easy to determine if an employee is going to steal or not. I do not know Mrs. Andrews but did anyone ever think that maybe she has been a hard worker and deserves the promotion? There are still some good people out there. I am just glad that I do not have all the negativity every day in my life that the posters on here do!

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