Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Embezzling Jasper R-5 Board secretary checks into Illinois prison for next 30 months

Former Jasper R-5 Board of Education secretary Karla Justice (formerly Jessee) checked into her new home, a minimum security prison in Greenville, Illinois, 43 miles east of St. Louis.

The Greenville facility will be home to Justice for the next two years and six months as she serves her sentence for embezzling and fraud in connection with the theft of at least $145,716.81 from the Jasper school district.

U. S. District Court Judge Douglas Harpool handed justice to Justice in July during a one hour, 15 minute session in which she told the details of her crimes.

The hearing also included impact statements from R-5 Superintendent/High School Principal Christina Hess, former Superintendent Kathy Fall, Elementary Principal David Davis and third grade teacher Tami Maneval, who related the cuts that had to be made in the district because of Justice's actions.

During her stay in Greenville, Justice will be required to undergo mental health treatment.

Justice's crimes were detailed in the plea agreement filed in U. S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri:

Based on a referral from the Jasper County, Missouri, Sheriff’s Office, 0n February 10, 2017, Special Agent (SA) Jason Ruyle, with the United States Secret Service (USSS), initiated an embezzlement investigation involving JUSTICE.

During his investigation, SA Ruyle learned JUSTICE was responsible for the payroll for the DISTRICT and the DISTICT’s school board. JUSTICE had access to the DISTRICT’s petty cash checkbook and signatory authority for this account. Further, JUSTICE had access to the signature stamps of school officials, which effectively gave her complete access to funds within the school district’s operating account. JUSTICE’s positions with the school district gave her unrestricted access to the account and payroll systems for the school district, including posting entries, making changes, making journal entries, performing any reconciliations, entering and changing employee i

information into the payroll system, and presenting financial reports and information to the School Board for the DISTRICT.

JUSTICE essentially had unlimited access to every aspect of the account and human resources functions for the DISTRICT. 

Upon meeting with school officials, SA Ruyle learned that the DISTRICT had experienced financial difficulties and had began analyzing its budget. During the DISTRICT’s financial analysis, officials noted irregularities in payroll payments made by the DISTRICT, unexplained credit card payments, and missing monies from the petty cash account. School officials observed that these irregularities and missing monies fell under the supervision of JUSTICE. School officials approached JUSTICE and asked her to reconcile and explain the irregularities and short fall in monies. After receiving the DISTRICT’s request to reconcile the irregularities, JUSTICE immediately wrote out a letter of resignation and provided it to school officials.

On March 29, 2017, the DISTRICT hired BKD CPAs and Advisors to conduct a financial forensic audit of the School District’s accounts. BKD’s financial forensic audit of the DISTRICT’s accounts reviewed payroll, petty cash, retirement contributions, checks cashed, credit card transactions, and purchases of DISTRICT assets for personal use. BKD’s report and a subsequent review by the USSS found JUSTICE had paid herself additional monies, compensation and salary, above the amount noted within her contract. The financial audit revealed that JUSTICE, without authority and without providing the services required for such payments, issued herself additional payroll payments, compensation and money from the DISTRICT’s various bank accounts. JUSTICE also received greater retirement contributions as a result of the increased payroll that she fraudulently issued to herself.

The investigation revealed that the payroll payments received by JUSTICE were made through the withdrawal of monies from the bank accounts of the DISTRICT, resulting in the deposit of monies into JUSTICE’s personal bank account. The resulting wire transmissions between the two financial institutions crossed interstate boundaries, constituting interstate commerce. BKD’s audit found that between 2014 and 2017, JUSTICE fraudulently authorized $80,858.15, in additional payroll above and beyond the amount allowed under her employment contract with the School District. As a result of the fraudulently received payroll JUSTICE also received an additional $6,731.67 in employer retirement contributions, and $6,530.40 in Social Security and Medicare contributions that she would not have received otherwise. 

In addition to the fraudulently obtained payroll and retirement contributions, the BKD audit and subsequent law enforcement investigation revealed other areas in which JUSTICE either embezzled monies from the DISTRICT or fraudulently used credit cards in the name of the DISTRICT to pay for her personal expenses. JUSTICE held sole signatory authority for the petty cash account for the DISTRICT. The investigation discovered numerous transactions, including checks and E-checks that totaled $13,929.53 in transactions that were conducted by JUSTICE to pay for personal expenses that were unrelated to the activities of the DISTRICT, and were not authorized by the DISTRICT.

The investigation further revealed numerous checks that had been written on the operating account for the DISTRICT. According to DISTRICT procedures, JUSTICE did not have authority to write checks to this account but she did have access to the signature stamps for school officials, who did have signatory authority over this account. Several employees with the DISTRICT informed investigators that JUSTICE repeatedly asked them to cash checks for her. School officials told investigators that each of the checks discovered during the investigation were fraudulently created and JUSTICE’s request that other employees cash these checks and give her the money was done to bypass safety measures created to prevent employees from directly cashing checks made out to themselves.


Anonymous said...

Just curious why she was sent to an Illinois prison instead of Missouri?

Anonymous said...

She was sent to a federal prison because they were federal charges she plead guilty to. FBOP decides where she is placed.

Anonymous said...

Not a long enough sentence. She could get 10-20 years same as an armed robber.

Anonymous said...

Why does a school give one person so much access and authority? Stupid lady and stupid school. Isn't this the same school that bought a 4 million dollar storm shelter and forgot to apply for the federal grant to pay for it?