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Former Max School business manager charged with theft

12/18/08 (Thu)

Former Max School business manager charged with theft

By STU MERRY

The former business manager at Max School faces felony theft charges for allegedly bilking the district out of more than $47,000.

LeaRae Hackett was arrested and charged this past Thursday for Class B felony theft. She appeared for a bond hearing this past Friday in Washburn and was released on her promise to appear without a requirement of a bond being posted. If convicted, Hackett could face up to 10 years in prison and $10,000 in fines.

In a recent audit by the State Auditor’s office, it was discovered that $47,812.03 of public funds was misappropriated by Hackett. The audit covered the period from Oct. 16, 2006, through Oct. 15, 2008. Hackett resigned her post as the school’s business manager Oct. 3.

In a letter dated Nov. 15, to the North Dakota Department of Insurance, State Auditor Robert Peterson said:

"Based on our examination, we are questioning $41,319.31 of unauthorized checks issued by Hackett to herself; a $2,262.56 unsupported direct deposit she made into her personal account; $2,241.60 of checks written (net of the deposit) to Bremer Bank and cashed by her; and $1,988.56 for a computer and accessories paid with school funds and shipped to her."

In the affidavit provided by the McLean county States Attorney’s office, it should be noted Hackett was responsible for paying bills by preparing the checks, stamping them with the board president’s signature (Hackett had the stamp) and signed them herself (dual signature checks). She also processed and recorded the payroll. In addition, she prepared receipts and made deposits for the school’s general fund.

According to the affidavit prepared by Tom Dahl, investigator, on Sept. 24, school board President Dennis Erickson received a call from Bremer Bank, stating that three checks written to the bank (totaling $6,828) were cashed by Hackett. Erickson contacted Superintendent Jim Blomberg who spent the next few days contacting board members to alert them of the situation.