State audit closes book on $44,000 theft by DECA charter school worker

The state auditor’s office has wrapped up its investigation of theft by an employee of the Dayton Early College Academy family of charter schools, an issue reported in June by the Dayton Daily News.

The state audit released Tuesday found $44,725 in improper credit card purchases between January 2010 and February 2017 by Cynthia Shoemaker, the former assistant to the schools’ treasurer.

FIRST STORY: DECA employee convicted of theft from school

Shoemaker was convicted of fourth-degree felony theft in connection with the case early in 2018. She was sentenced to five years of probation, $500 restitution and a prohibition against working any job handling cash or finances.

The new auditor’s report confirmed that Shoemaker had been solely responsible for supervising all employee credit card transactions, which allowed her to commit fraud. The report said she used her assigned credit card, and four credit cards assigned to others, for personal purchases at gas stations, restaurants, an animal clinic, and car rental companies totaling $43,748.

An improper reimbursement check and purchase of gift cards outside state regulations made up the last $977, according to the state auditor.

EARLIER: DECA using grant to expand elementary school

Dave Taylor, deputy superintendent for all of the DECA schools, said last year that DECA officials learned of the illegal spending in January 2017, immediately moved for termination and self-reported the issue.

“This is not in line with our values or the kind of people we are as an organization,” Taylor said in 2018, adding that the schools have changed financial procedures to close loopholes. “It’s incredibly frustrating. Our top priorities were to make sure the public’s money was restored, and we have been made whole in that way.”

The audit report said DECA received a $42,957 payment from its employee dishonesty insurance policy, $238 from Shoemaker and a $1,530 donation to cover the total amount.

DATA: How did local charter schools do on state report card?

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