Former Whitwell HS bookkeeper stole over $35,000 - | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Former Whitwell HS bookkeeper stole over $35,000

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WHITWELL, TN (WRCB) - The Tennessee Comptroller’s office reports that former bookkeeper at Whitwell High School in Marion County pocketed at least $35,332 in cash collected for school activities.

Lois Vandergriff, the school’s former bookkeeper, used several methods to conceal the theft of the money, according to a news release from the state.

Vandergriff is accused of exchanging checks collected from school activities to replace some of the missing cash and providing false and inconsistent information to school staff, administrators and auditors.

READ MORE | HS bookkeeper arrested in theft of over $35,000

Investigators from the Comptroller’s office shared their findings with the local district attorney general.

Earlier this year, a Marion County Grand Jury indicted Vandergriff on one count of theft over $10,000 and one count of vandalism.

Investigators also learned that Vandergriff had issued school checks totaling more than $5,977 to herself, with documentation on purchases for only $2,700 of that amount.

The documented expenses included a number of questionable items such as dog food, dog treats, cigarettes and soft drinks. Investigators were unable to determine if the documented purchases were for legitimate school needs.
Vandergriff also issued $902.42 in checks to her son; for yard work and reimbursement for items purchased on behalf of the school. Investigators could not determine if all of those expenses were for the school’s benefit.

“Fraud, waste or abuse of public money is never acceptable, but it’s particularly troublesome when that money would have benefited schoolchildren,” Tennessee State Comptroller Justin P. Wilson said. “I’m encouraged that school officials are taking steps to correct the problems we identified. That should reduce the chances of something like this happening there again.”
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