- A former Arkansas school district administrator pleaded guilty to mail fraud this week.
- Prosecutors say Karen James spent more than $230,000 on personal items using district credit cards.
- Part of her plea deal requires her to pay the funds back as restitution.
A former school district administrator in Little Rock, Arkansas, pleaded guilty to mail fraud Wednesday after spending more than $230,000 in school district funds on personal online shopping expenses, according to a press release from the US Attorney’s Office in the Eastern District of Arkansas.
Karen James, 48, served as the director of early childhood education and elementary literacy for Little Rock School District from 2010 until 2019. Prosecutors say James was issued two credit cards to make purchases for early childhood programs across the district. The cards were funded by state and federal grants, the attorney’s office said.
District policy required James to sign multiple agreements stating that the credit cards could not be used to make personal purchases, nor could items bought with the district cards be sent to an individual’s home residence.
But from August 2014 to August 2018, James spent more than $4,000 on bath rugs, a recliner, and other home goods from Wayfair; purchased nearly 2,500 items on Amazon, including clothing, makeup, knitting materials, pet products, and gift cards, which totaled more than $199,200; and spent more than $27,000 on 83 unauthorized PayPal purchases, according to prosecutors.
Over the four-year period, James spent $230,635.86 on personal expenses using the district credit cards, according to the release.
The district required that James document each purchase made on the credit cards by logging individual transactions and providing a confirmation receipt.
In August 2018, the district discovered that James had been submitting falsified receipts and transaction logs, prosecutors said. The fabricated receipts and logs had been changed to reflect authorized purchases, but upon further investigation, the school district was able to obtain the original vendor receipts, which revealed James’ deception.
Several of the items were shipped directly to James’ home, the attorney’s office said.
According to the Arkansas Times, James’ scheme was discovered after a district security officer filed a police report regarding the misuse of district credit cards. She was terminated shortly after but filed an appeal and was allowed to resign in January 2019, the publication reported. She also forfeit her Arkansas teaching license in September 2020, according to the Times.
James’ plea agreement requires that she pay the funds back to Little Rock School District as restitution. A judge will sentence her at a later date, the attorney’s office said.
An attorney for James did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.
Courtesy By INSIDER