New Charges Surface In Anchorage School District Embezzlement Case

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by Russ Slaten

Currently on probation for stealing from the Anchorage School District, a former East High secretary faces new charges for allegedly embezzling more than $100,000.

Officials say it's the largest single theft from the school district in history.

The former secretary was already fired by the school district for stealing from Chugiak High School, but officials delved deeper by investigating her previous job at East High.

Anchorage Police say 44-year-old Gayle White of Wasilla allegedly embezzled nearly $100,500 while working at East High as the student activities secretary from 2006 to 2009.

White is being charged for three felonies--first degree theft, scheme to defraud and falsifying business records.

Police say she failed to deposit funds into the correct accounts after receiving money from students and parents.

"It's typical in a sense to where money is taken and then moved around to try and cover up where it was missing," said Anchorage Police Department Detective Anthony Pate.

Before the new charges surfaced, White was already charged and sentenced to probation in a previous fraud case for stealing about $5,000 from Chugiak High School. After being fired in April of 2011, officials investigated further to reveal the alleged East High embezzlement.

"The district finds it very disappointing that employees would steal money from the district, and ultimately from student participation-- sports or school activities. When you're stealing money from the district, you're stealing money from students," said Anchorage School District Spokesperson Heidi Embley.

According to charging documents, a person in White's position can process about $500,000 a school year.

"People in charge of your books, and in a position of trust with money, no matter how much you trust them should be subject to regular audits," said Pate.

The Anchorage School District said students were not directly affected and the actions of White did not stop students from participating in activities, but in reaction to the embezzlement cases, the district said it will tighten accountability.

"We have taken a very close look at our cash handling procedures, and have made some changes. We do believe the procedures we have in place overall, are pretty good. we will continue to make additional changes in the future, but when it comes down to it, this was criminal activity, and if someone's intent on breaking the law, they're gonna find a way to do it, regardless of what rules and procedures we have in place," said Embley.

White is scheduled to appear in district court for arraignment on June 22nd.

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