Former Manatee charter school leader accused of stealing $27,000

Lori Bergeron, Manatee County Jail booking photo

MANATEE COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) — A former charter school board president is accused of stealing $27,000 from her school.

Investigators with the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office say Lori Bergeron, 43, was president of the board of the Manatee School of the Arts and Sciences when she cashed six school checks totaling more than $27,000.

She then allegedly exchanged the money for cashier’s checks and deposited them into her personal banking account. The thefts happened between April 12 and June 30, 2016.

The missing funds were discovered during a recent audit of the school’s finances.

Bergeron was arrested on Friday morning and charged with Scheme to Defraud over $20,000.

The suspect admitted to taking the money, according to an arrest affidavit. Investigators also said she offered to make monthly payments.

Principal Richard Ramsay said the school is cooperating with the sheriff’s office and focusing on the upcoming school year. Ramsay said he couldn’t comment on the arrest.

Students’ relatives talked with News Channel 8 about the alleged crime.

Chris Osborne’s nephew attends the school. “That’s a lot of money to take from a bunch of little kids. I mean parents already have problems paying for things. The economy is down. To steal $27,000 from a bunch of kids in a small school, that’s a low blow,” Osborne said.

Rick Osborne is also related to Chris’ nephew.

“I think that’s kind of dirty. I don’t think she should be stealing from a school; I mean that takes from the kids, doesn’t it? Rick Osborne said.

Meanwhile, a former neighbor of the suspect’s said this crime is out of character. “I think that’s crazy. I’ve never even heard of her even thinking of something like that. I mean, she was a really nice person, do anything for you,” Erza Gross said.

R-MANATEE-SCHOOL-ARTS-SCIEN

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