Texas School Embezzler|Faces Stretch in Prison

BROWNSVILLE, Texas (CN) — Those cookies add up. A school district accounting clerk faces 10 years in federal prison after pleading guilty to embezzling $332,000 from concession sales over six years — quadrupling her salary by filching from the cookie jar.
     Leticia Arreola, 38, of Los Fresnos, admitted Wednesday that since 2010 she slipped cash from four Brownsville schools into her purse, instead of into school bank accounts.
     She was nabbed when she was unable to produce receipts for the snack bar items, such as ice cream and cookies.
     U.S. Attorney Kenneth Magidson said that Arreola’s annual salary was about $20,000, but bank records show that she embezzled more than $48,000 in 2010, $46,500 in 2011, $35,500 in 2012, and more than $63,000 in both 2013 and 2014.
     In her best, or worst, year, 2015, she swiped $71,500, the prosecutor said. She squirreled away another $4,700 this year before Brownsville police and the FBI caught up to her.
     Arreola pleaded guilty to a federal information accusing her of theft from programs receiving federal funds.
     The Brownsville Independent School District receives more than $10,000 per year in federal funding to help provide cafeteria lunches for students in the border city with one of the highest poverty rates in the country.
     The stolen money came from Faulk Elementary School, Brownsville Early College High School, Brownsville Learning Academy, and the Brownsville Academic Center.
     Arreola’s plea deal recommends she spend 10 years in prison, followed by three years of supervised release, and a fine of up to $250,000.
     She is free on $30,000 bond, pending her sentencing on Aug. 31.

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