Ex-school official implicated in audit charged with theft
WOODWARD, Iowa (AP) — A former Iowa school district official was arrested Tuesday on theft charges for allegedly embezzling nearly $217,000 over the course of several years.
Melissa Lee Lantz, who resigned as the Woodward-Granger Community School District’s business manager shortly after being placed on administrative leave last August, was arrested on first-degree theft charges at the Dallas County Jail, the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation said in a statement. She later posted bond and was released.
Lantz, 35, didn’t immediately reply to a Tuesday phone message seeking comment and court records don’t list an attorney for her.
The arrest follows a state audit that found more than $270,000 in improper and unsupported disbursements by the district over five years, including 101 checks that Lantz issued to herself on top of her authorized paychecks. Those additional checks, which weren’t approved by the school board, ranged from $315 to $6,500, according to the auditors, who forwarded their findings to the authorities.
District officials who were concerned about Lantz’s actions requested the audit.
Auditors said it was impossible to determine whether more payroll checks were improperly issued, because time sheets before June 15, 2013, were not available. It also wasn’t possible to determine whether all district collections were properly deposited, because sufficient records were not available, the report said.
In addition to the $217,000 in unauthorized checks, the audit found improper disbursements including nearly $12,000 in health and dental insurance premiums that were paid for people after they had stopped working for the district and $14 for excess mileage in a reimbursement check issued to Lantz.