Former Western principal pleads guilty to stealing student funds

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A former principal at Western High School pleaded guilty to stealing more than $50,000 from school system funds intended to pay for student activities like the prom.

Alisha R. Trusty, 38, pleaded guilty in Baltimore Circuit Court to felony theft, according to a statement from the state persecutor’s office Tuesday.

Trusty used the student activity fund debit card and checks between February of 2011 and January of 2014 to buy $25,000 worth of personal items and more to pay bills, personal legal fees, and a 19-day hotel stay in New Jersey, according to the statement of facts in the case.

“Public School principals are trusted and relied on by the school system, students and parents to always act in the best interests of their students,” said State Prosecutor Emmet C. Davitt in a statement Tuesday. “Betrayal of that trust by a principal who steals student activity funds is a particularly reprehensible offense that cannot be tolerated.”

Trusty’s attorney, James Rhodes, did not immediately respond for a request for comment Tuesday morning.

The state prosecutor’s office began investigating Trusty after receiving a complaint from the Baltimore City Public School’s Office of Legal Counsel. A school system audit had found “numerous irregularities” in the student activities account.

Prosecutors said she used the school debit card to buy $25,000-worth of personal items. She spent $3,600 to pay personal legal bills. Public records show Trusty has had several judgments and liens filed against her in recent years, including one case in which she was ordered to pay about $11,000 to an auto finance company, Regional Acceptance Corp.

She spent another $1,275 of the school’s funds to pay a Baltimore Gas and Electric bill, prosecutors said. Trusty also used $2,818 for a 19-day at a New Jersey hotel stay between June and July 2013. She was on medical leave from the school system at the time.

Trusty twice wrote checks for $2,450 and then cashed them for personal use, once on Nov. 29, 2013 and again on Jan. 6, 2014.

Prosecutors said she withdrew $5,380 through “cash back” transactions, using the school debit card more than 60 times.

She also sought and received a reimbursement of $10,875.97 from the school system for trip expenses even though she had already charged the costs to the student activity fund account.

A city schools spokeswoman did not immediately respond for a request for comment Tuesday morning.

Western is the oldest all-girls public school in the nation, and regularly places all its students in college. It was designated a National Blue Ribbon School several years agio. Its graduates include Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, State Del. Jill P. Carter, and former state schools Superintendent Nancy S. Grasmick.

Trusty served as principal at Western from August 2010 through August of 2014.

Her sentencing is scheduled for Oct. 6., 2015.

-via Baltimore sun

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