Ex-William Penn employee charged in $210G theft from union


A former employee of the William Penn School District allegedly stole more than $210,000 from the bank accounts for her fellow district employees’ union to support her gambling habit, according to criminal charges filed this week in district court.

Rose Marie Lyons allegedly then replaced some of the stolen union funds with her gambling winnings and other means, including stolen checks made payable to the school district and IRS refunds apparently belonging to people for whom she prepared income tax returns, the charging document indicates.

Lyons, 52, of the 2500 block of North Jefferson Street in Wilmington, Del., and formerly of Delaware County, surrendered Tuesday at Delaware County Criminal Investigation Division headquarters. She was accompanied by her defense attorney, Robert C. Keller.

She’s charged with felony theft by deception, theft by unlawful taking, receiving stolen property and access device fraud between July of 2009 and December of 2015, while she served as president and recording secretary of the William Penn Education Support Personnel Association.

Lyons was released on $100,000 unsecured bail.

According to Keller, Lyons is now retired from her school district job, which he described as “an administrative role.”

The WPESPA represents about 90 employees of the school district whose jobs include instructional assistants, secretaries, staff nurses and library assistants. Money collected by the association is used to pay dues to the Pennsylvania State Education Association, as well as for the benefit of the WPESPA.

Two members of the WPESPA, Dawn Fry and Vivian Callahan, initially discovered a misappropriation of funds and filed a report with the Lansdowne Police Department back on Jan. 14, 2016. At the time, both Fry and Callahan were newly appointed to union positions when they “discovered numerous transactions that should not have been authorized through the association’s account,” according to the probable cause affidavit written by Detective John Hoffner of the Delaware County Criminal Investigation Division.

When the women contacted PNC Bank, they were told to file a police report.

“The reporting parties stated that while examining financial records, it appeared that the former WPESPA president/financial secretary, Rose Marie Lyons, who had complete control of the financial accounts, was responsible for numerous suspicious deposits and withdrawals between 2009 and 2015,” the affidavit states “The reporting parties stated the association should only be receiving deposits from their members via electronic transactions between the William Penn School District and the association.”

As part of the investigation, the employees association provided bank records from 2009 to 2015, including numerous checks made payable to the school district for payments of property school taxes and fine monies from district courts, as well as IRS electronic deposits.

The records showed withdrawals in large amounts of cash, initially by transactions through a bank teller. After an ATM card was obtained in November 2013, numerous ATM withdrawals were subsequently recorded, “mostly from casinos,” the affidavit states.

“There is no legitimate reason for Lyons to have a credit/debit card attached to the association’s account,” the reporting parties told authorities, according to the affidavit.

As a result of the bank records provided, Hoffner sought and executed a search warrant for the WPESPA bank records from PNC Bank. Those banks records show that between July 2009 and December 2015, Lyons was responsible for 448 unauthorized withdrawals totaling $210,592.91 from the association’s bank account. The transactions included teller withdrawals, ATM withdrawals, check card purchases, bank fees and service charges, according to the affidavit.

As apparent payback, according to the affidavit, Lyons made 211 unauthorized deposits totaling $179,700.91 into the association’s bank account from sources including personal checks, cash, stolen checks made payable to the school district, and IRS electronic tax returns. According to the affidavit, the IRS deposits are undeterminable but “it is believed” they were for other people for whom she prepared tax returns.

In July and August 2015, 15 checks made payable to the school district, totaling $28,494.70, were deposited into the WPESPA account, the affidavit states. As a result of the theft of the checks, an insurance claim was made and the school district received $27,994.70 less a $500 deductible.

Further investigation revealed an additional check made payable to the school district in the amount of $374.99 was deposited into the WPESPA account on Aug. 26, 2013.

As a result of those checks, the school district has still incurred a loss of $874.99, and as a result of Lyons’ actions, the WPESPA has still incurred a net loss of $2,022.79, the affidavit states.

Keller described his client as a “contrite” grandmother who has no criminal history, but who does have a history of depression. He declined to confirm if his client has a gambling addiction.

“I can tell you she is in treatment and she sees a counselor,” Keller said.

Moving forward, Keller said, “We are going to conduct our own thorough investigation concerning these funds, hopefully to reach a non-trial disposition.”

Since his involvement in the case, Keller said Lyons “hasn’t stopped crying over the prospect of what she is facing.”

A preliminary hearing is listed for Feb. 27 in Magisterial District Judge W. Keith Williams II court.


Article From:- http://www.delcotimes.com

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