MACOMB (WWJ) – A Macomb Township high school Spanish teacher is facing up to 10 years in prison, accused of stealing tens of thousands of dollars met for a field trip and the Homecoming dance.
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Macomb County Prosecutor Eric Smith on Thursday charged against 29-year-old Lydia Johnson with one felony count of embezzlement from a non-profit organization — $1,000 to $20,000.
Investigators say, as Dakota’s student activity coordinator, Johnson oversaw ticket sales to Dakota High School’s 2016 Homecoming dance. She took in nearly $30,000, according to prosecutors, but deposited only $11,000 into the school’s account. In addition, Johnson oversaw ticket sales for a student-parent trip to Camp Tamarack; collecting $30,000, but putting only $500 of that into the school’s account.
When the camp’s repeated attempts to collect were unsuccessful the cash from Johnson they contacted officials with the Chippewa Valley school district. After an internal investigation by Chippewa officials yielded more questions than answers, prosecutors say, the Macomb County Sheriff’s Office was called in to help.
“You know, to Chippewa Valley’s credit, as soon as they found this out they put her on administrative leave back in May of last year and she has not been brought back,” Smith said. “They’re in the process of trying to terminate her right now.”
As far as what happened to the cash, Smith said Johnson’s Detroit’s MGM Grand Casino player card shows she spent $90,000 playing penny slots; an amount which “far exceeds” her salary.READ MORE: Consumer Alert: How To Avoid Fake N95, KN95 Masks
“When the cash envelopes were found, torn open and the cash missing, we found all kinds of gambling receipts near those as well,” Smith told WWJ’s Ron Dewey. “So clearly this woman has a gambling issue and was taking this money from the kids to go gamble with.
“Many of these students will now remember their Senior Homecoming for all the wrong reasons,” added Macomb Sheriff Anthony Wickersham.
Ron Roberts, Superintendent of Chippewa Valley Schools, said they’ve been supportive of authorities in this investigation.
“We will do whatever it takes to ensure that our board policies are followed and that our employees are acting in the best interest of our school community,” he added.
Johnson was arraigned in 41-A District Court in Shelby Township and released on a $10,000 personal bond. She will be back in court for a hearing on Oct. 5.MORE NEWS: Flint Public Schools Staying Virtual Indefinitely Due To Large Amount Of Positive COVID-19 Cases
“This teacher held a position of trust within the high school,” Smith said. “She repaid that trust by feeding student funds into a slot machine.”