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Ex-bookkeeper accused of stealing $147k from East Beauregard High

Last Modified: Saturday, November 16, 2013 1:06 PM

By Lauren Manary / American Press

A former bookkeeper at East Beauregard High School has been arrested after alledgedly pocketing $147,648 during her eight-year tenure.

Sharon “Sherry” Bushnell, 67, of Dry Creek, was arrested Friday and is being held on $25,000 bond in the Beauregard Parish jail. According to a news release from the Beauregard Parish School Board, the money was discovered missing on June 24 after Principal Larry Hollie reported he was unable to locate school activity funds.

“It is always tragic when there are allegations that a trusted employee has violated that trust by misappropriating public funds,” wrote School Superintendent Timothy Cooley. “The matter is now in the hands of the Beauregard Parish Sheriff’s Department for such further actions as may be appropriate.”

Cooley, who served at East Beauregard High School as a teacher, assistant principal and principal, chose not to comment beyond the news release.

Roger Harris, the director of investigative audits at the Louisiana Legislative Auditor’s Office, said his department began its investigation July 10. A report released Friday says the auditors were able to corroborate the theft by checking receipts recorded by Bushnell against the high school’s checking account. The report also says Bushnell said that after she issued receipts, she would alter the books before reconciling the school’s bank account.

“It’s a shame that the board will not conduct a full finance audit in every school in the parish,” said School Board member Russell Havens. “We do only piecemeal audits, the School Board needs a full legislative audit on the school system. They need to speak to all board members, not just two or three.”

“Ms. Bushnell was highly thought of in the community,” said School Board member Don Gray, who represents East Beauregard. “The ones who don’t know, it’s going to be a shock to them. Regardless of her motives, there’s no real reason to steal or take money when it don’t belong to you.”

According to School Board records, Bushnell retired from East Beauregard on June 26 — one day after the Sheriff’s Office said it was contacted to begin an investigation. Bushnell told auditors that she was taking the money to help cover costs for her spouse’s medical bills and to support the members of her household. Bushnell was earning $15,191 yearly for her position, which required she work only 11 months each year.

“Hopefully we can recover some of the money. Things are already being put in place so that won’t happen again,” Gray said.

The auditor’s report recommends the school system seek recovery of the funds; separate the functions of collecting/recording receipt information and performing bank reconciliation; and implement changes to the electronic accounting system to prevent the alteration of receipt information.



Posted By: concerned citizen On: 1/10/2014

Title: not so poor lady

correction... 147, 000 grand over an eight year period is an estimated 20,000 grand a year. So this lady was really making 35,000 a year.. very sad. She admitted to logging in the books $400.00 instead of $500 and pocketing the rest. So she was doing this daily or weekly with no hesitation or guilt for an 8 year period. very very sad

Posted By: TexCajun On: 11/16/2013

Title: Poor woman

No wonder she took it, she only made $15,000 a year.

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