The former bookkeeper of Bruton High School, charged with forgery and embezzlement from the school, pleaded guilty to all 24 counts against her in York-Poquoson Circuit Court Tuesday.
Christine Flood-Liggon, 55, pleaded guilty to nine counts of embezzlement and 15 counts of forgery for actions that took place over more than four years.
Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Krystyn Reid, when stating the evidence against Flood-Liggon, said the York County School Division lost $144,822, citing an audit the division conducted.
As the school’s bookkeeper, Flood-Liggon was the only person to handle cash and checks “from every aspect of the school” — things like payments for sports, field trips, arts, yearbooks and dances — court records state.
Bruton Principal Arletha Dockery reported suspected embezzlement by Flood-Liggon when she noticed several years of cash deposits missing from school accounts, records state. In circuit court, Reid said club sponsors at the school also realized accounts were lower than they should be.
When Flood-Liggon was confronted about missing money in June 2016, she said that she made a mistake, according to Reid. Flood-Liggon was fired soon after.
While clearing Flood-Liggon’s work space, Dockery found an Amazon statement, records state. Dockery, who started at Bruton in summer of 2015, did not recall the school having an Amazon account.
Dockery told investigators the account was created “under the guise of purchasing for (Bruton High School)” and that Flood-Liggon also obtained a line credit with Amazon. Dockery said Flood-Liggon was not authorized to make purchases for the school or obtain credit in the school’s name, records state.
Dockery worked with Amazon and found the purchases made under the school account were addressed to Flood-Liggon and listed the school’s address for shipping. The orders were paid for by the Amazon credit account.
Flood-Liggon was initially charged in August 2016 with five counts of felony embezzlement and one count of misdemeanor embezzlement, according to Daily Press records.
Those charges were set aside temporarily to allow the York-Poquoson’s Sheriff’s Office to continue its investigation because more charges were expected, said Capt. Troy Lyons, a Sheriff’s Office investigator.
After a review of a forensic audit and further investigation, they came back with the 24 total charges, which were certified by a grand jury in November. Lyons said the investigation went on continuously since Dockery spoke with deputies in June 2016.
School division spokeswoman Katherine Goff said the division’s finance department provided more training to Bruton staff to ensure they follow established procedures. Administrators, secretaries and new staff involved in bookkeeping are also provided annual training, Goff said.
Flood-Liggon is scheduled to be sentenced May 24. She is currently out of jail on bond.
Reyes can be reached by phone at 757-247-4692. Follow him on Twitter @jdauzreyes.