A former Spanish teacher has been accused of embezzling more than $30,000 from the Michigan high school she worked at and spending it on the slots.
Lydia Christine Johnson, 29, was arraigned Thursday on a charge of “embezzling from a non-profit organization” after she was accused of taking $19,000 from the Dakota High School in Macomb Township’s homecoming account, The Detroit News reported.
The teacher was also blamed with stealing $12,500 from a trip to Camp Tamarack that students and parents paid to attend. The grand total is $31,500.
Johnson was the school’s student activity organizer from July 2016 until she was placed on administrative leave in May, the Macomb County Prosecutor’s Office said. The teacher was in charge of all the funds associated with student events.
The office said Johnson supervised the ticket sales for the school’s homecoming dance - which should have accumulated $30,000 - but she only deposited $11,000 into “the school’s homecoming account,” Click on Detroit reported.
“A search of Johnson’s classroom revealed several homecoming cash deposit envelopes that were torn open but empty,” the office said in a statement. “Johnson’s bank records also show 2016 cash deposits far in excess of her salary.”
“Johnson also oversaw ticket sales and receipts for a 2016 sixty-person student-and-parent trip to Camp Tamarack. Johnson should have collected and deposited nearly $13,000 in fees. Only $500 was deposited with the school,” the office said.
Johnson reportedly used the school events funds to gamble at Detroit’s MGM Casino’s penny slots. The teacher spent more than $90,000 gambling in 2016, casino records showed. When authorities searched her classroom they discovered casino receipts near homecoming envelopes, the Macomb County Prosecutor’s Office said.
"This teacher held a position of trust within the high school,” said Prosecutor Eric Smith. "She repaid that trust by feeding student funds into a slot machine."
Ron Roberts, Chippewa Valley Schools Superintendent, said the school has fully cooperated in the 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,” Roberts said in a statement.
Paul Sibley, the school’s principal, issued a letter to parents regarding the accused embezzlement.
If Johnson is found guilty, she could face up to 10 years in prison. Her next court date is Oct. 5 and her bond has been set at $10,000.