A former secretary at a New York City high school is facing $9,000 in fines for inappropriately spending public dollars, mostly on fast food and "dozens of visits to McDonald's," according to the New York Daily News.
Kappry Vera resigned from Manhattan's Urban Assembly School for Construction and Design in August 2011 when school officials started investigating her suspicious spending, according to the Daily News. The school's principal noticed "questionable purchases" on the city-funded credit card intended for school purchases.
The purchases totaled more than $3,000 in personal spending between August 2009 and May 2011. Vera dropped hundreds of dollars at joints like Subway and Burger King. Trips to McDonald's, up to four times a day, totaled $765.
Vera's embezzlement charge comes nearly a year after Bronx principal Liza Cruz Diaz was removed from PS 31 over allegations that she stole about $5,000 from the school. Investigators said Cruz Diaz used some of the money to pay for her daughter's "Sweet 16" party and deleted financial records when she became aware of the probe.
Employee siphoning of public dollars for private use plagues districts nationwide. A Pennsylvania audit of the York City School District last November found that the district misspent nearly $1 million in federal taxpayer money on items just sitting in storage. Items purchased by the district include 16 boxes of hula hoops, three greenhouses, Wii video game systems, dozens of laptops, expired tickets to Hersheypark and 10 boxes of stopwatches.
In Massachusetts, the state auditor has called for sweeping reform of financial accountability for the state's 30 special education agencies after her office found several of the collaboratives had misused millions of public dollars.
The most egregious offender was the Merrimack Special Education Collaborative, which auditors found to have spent $26.7 million in "inadequately documented and potentially unallowable expenses," like $1,255 on alcohol, $18,284 on meals and entertainment, $142 for 30 pounds of swordfish for a special education director's cookout, numerous purchases totaling $5,735 in golf-related charges, and $4,576 on vehicle expenses, including gasoline "for what appears to be a personal vehicle."
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