Video shows school employee putting money in her pocket

Cary Ashby • Mar 26, 2014 at 12:30 AM

Prosecutors appear to be playing hot potato about the suspected theft case involving a former employee of Willard City Schools.

"Nothing new on that," Huron County Prosecutor Russell Leffler said when asked about the case Monday. "I haven't determined anything."

Leffler referred further questions to Norwalk Assistant Law Director Scott Christophel.

Christophel said he heard about the case when he'd received a letter from the female suspect's attorney a couple weeks ago. The Reflector isn't naming the woman because she hasn't been charged. Christophel, who hasn't seen any reports on the case, said he discovered the Willard Police Department had forwarded its material to Leffler's office for review.

"The ball is in his court," Christophel said, referring to the county prosecutor.

Police and school officials have said the employee, who retired March 7, is accused of stealing $200 from basketball ticket sales. The allegation is in connection with a Feb. 14 incident.

Superintendent Jeff Ritz recently released surveillance footage of the theft, which was requested by the Reflector, which clearly shows the woman putting a stack of cash in her left pocket near the end of the 5 1/2-minute video.

The woman is sitting at a table in a hallway at Willard High School by herself. To her left is the cash box.

The suspect lays out some cash and starts counting it at the 1:25 mark, according to the video. About 50 seconds later, she restacks the bills and then makes some notes.

At the 2:31 mark, the woman puts the same cash in the cash drawer. Four seconds later, she is counting another stack of bills, according to the video.

The woman directs two male students to a room to the right of the table at the 3:54 mark. They open the door and close it behind them. About 15 seconds later, the woman puts a stack of cash in the drawer and makes some more notes.

At 5:12 in the video, one of the student opens the door and leaves the room and about nine seconds later, the woman puts a stack of cash in her left pocket -- the one nearest the camera.

Detective Jeremy Draper conducted several interviews after police received the theft complaint Feb. 28. According to his report, which cites the video, the suspect counted the money from the money box and she folded the cash she earlier placed to the left of the box "and then placed it in her pocket."

Ritz made a finding in which he recommended the school board terminate the employee. The superintendent, citing what the suspect and her attorney said during a March 3 pre-disciplinary meeting, wrote he found the woman "did take approximately $200 from the gate receipts at a Willard City School District event ... without permission to do so on Feb. 14, 2014."

The employee's retirement/resignation letter is dated March 7.

"Please be advised that by tendering my retirement, I am making no admission of guilt or wrongdoing with respect to the school district's investigation of the events of Feb. 14, 2014 and (I) reserve any rights I may have under (the) law with respect thereto," the woman wrote in her letter.

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