State Auditor: School bookkeeper accused of stealing previously charged with forgery

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – New information about the woman accused of stealing tens of thousands of dollars from Bernalillo Public Schools.
KRQE News 13 now know she’s been in trouble before, but officials say a background check didn’t catch it.

Last year a Bernalillo Public School’s bookkeeper was accused of stealing student fundraising money.

It turns out, this employee confessed to stealing more than $5,000 from her former employer, shortly before she was hired by the district.

Antionette Garica is accused of stealing money raised by teachers, students and parents at WD Carrol Elementary and La Escuelita Preschool.

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The $5,000 dollars was meant for field trips and was raised through popcorn sales, Isotopes games, yearbook sales, book fairs and other fundraisers.
What school officials didn’t know was Garcia was previously accused of stealing when she worked at New Mexico Educators Federal Credit Union.

Garcia was indicted on charges of forgery and embezzlement in 2007, but when she applied to Bernalillo Public Schools, several months later, she didn’t mention anything and the indictments didn’t show up in a background check.

State Auditor Tim Keller, who helped investigate the fraud at the schools, says that’s not unusual.

“In this case, it’s not clear a background check would’ve caught this because it was either a pending matter or it was part of a diversion program that wouldn’t get picked up until that diversion program was finished,” Keller said.

Garcia was ordered to pay restitution as part of her guilty plea that’s the diversion program Keller was talking about.

Again the district says they had no idea.

Officials fired Garcia in February last year after an internal investigation revealed the missing money.

Garcia denies the theft at the schools and at this point she has not been criminally charged.
Auditor Tim Keller says he anticipates that will happen.

 

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