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Former school secretary charged with forgery, embezzlement

June 21, 2002|by DAVE McMILLION

charlestown@herald-mail.com

CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. - A former secretary at Ranson Elementary School was charged Wednesday with 61 counts of forgery, 61 counts of uttering and three counts of embezzlement, Ranson Police Chief William Roper said.

Barbara Staats, 35, of Cedar Lane in Charles Town, was arraigned Wednesday before Jefferson County Magistrate William Senseney and released on $10,000 bond, Roper said.

Staats is accused of receiving $29,373.68 between March 27, 1997 and Nov. 30, 2000, after submitting overtime requests with forged signatures of principal Debra Corbett and teacher Judith Cain, a criminal complaint alleges.

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The complaint also alleges Staats was responsible for money raised through fund-raisers and an audit showed that $11,875 was missing from school fund-raisers.

Staats was released from her job about a year ago, Superintendent of Schools Jud Romine said.

School officials said Thursday they had noticed excessive overtime costs throughout the school system when Staats allegedly began submitting overtime requests.

Although Jefferson County Schools Treasurer Nancy White could not say how large the overtime costs had become, controls were put in place and the overtime costs were brought under control, she said.

At the time, the overtime forms were sent directly to the payroll department for payment and the money was added to the employees' paycheck, said White.

"It just bypassed everybody," Romine said.

Changes have been made in the way overtime forms are submitted to the central office, White said.

Overtime forms now must be approved by the school superintendent or an associate superintendent before payment can be made, said White and Sokol.

The superintendent or an associate superintendent consult with the principal from the school to make sure the overtime form is legitimate, said White and Sokol.

The superintendent and principal may also discuss other ways to avoid paying overtime, said White and Sokol.

The $41,248.68 that was lost did not cause budget problems at the central office or Ranson Elementary, White said.

Conviction on forgery and uttering charges carries a penalty of 1-10 years in prison. A conviction on an embezzlement charge usually carries a 1-10 prison term.

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