Minnesota AP audit uncovers embezzlement

The business manager of the Chokio-Alberta School District in western Minnesota recently pleaded guilty to wire fraud after an accounts payable audit found that she had embezzled more than $275,000 over approximately one decade.

Liane Claassen used her position of authority as an audit coordinator and payroll supervisor in conjunction with a lack of checks and balances to misrepresent the amount of money the district had, moving it between accounts hosted on the district's computer system before eventually depositing it into her bank account and retirement fund, the Star Tribune explains.

"This is a major case felt by those teachers, administrators, and kids, and we're sensitive to them, especially when you consider the recent state government shutdown and the financial struggles that school districts are facing," said Assistant U.S. Attorney Chris Wilton, as quoted by the news source.

Although the fund misappropriation had been occurring since mid-1999, it was not identified until a new auditing firm brought in by the district's former superintendent carried out an in-depth AP audit last year which uncovered irregularities.

Claassen, who is yet to be sentenced, faces a potential 20-year prison term, according to the FBI. 

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