Funds missing from Fort High top $300,000

FORT FRANCES—A police investigation into missing funds at Fort Frances High School over a three-year period that led to a charge against head secretary Fawn Lindberg for theft over $5,000 has found the actual amount of funds missing from the school’s account exceeds $300,000.
An information to obtain a production order, sworn by Det. Cst. Darren P. Hyatt before Justice of the Peace Pat Clysdale-Cornell here Dec. 31, stated the money was withdrawn from the school’s chequing account between March 3, 2004 and Oct. 18, 2007.
The information is a document prepared by the police and sworn before a justice of the peace that provides the background for a request for the justice to issue an order compelling evidence to be brought to the court as in this case, or as in other cases authorizing a person to be arrested and brought to the court.
The document revealed close to 150 pre-authorized blank cheques were made out to Lindberg and cash totalling $312,426.45.
According to the document, Laura Mills, superintendent of business for the Rainy River District School Board, had questioned Fort High principal Gord McCabe on Oct. 18 about a deficit of $175,000 in the school’s budget.
McCabe then questioned Lindberg about the deficit. That same day, she left early for lunch and did not return to the school, the document states.
The document says Lindberg then asked McCabe to attend her residence that day, where they discussed the administration of the school’s account.
Mills also attended Lindberg’s residence, the document says.
Det. Cst. Hyatt stated in the document that he monitored a video recording taken by police from Lindberg on Oct. 19 and reported “Lindberg believed she had stolen in excess of $200,000.”
He also stated “Lindberg realized in the spring of 2007 that she had a gambling problem.”
According to the document, Lindberg was placed on leave with pay from her employment at the school. All of her computer privileges and passwords were suspended.
Lindberg, 41, was charged Oct. 19 with theft exceeding $5,000, under Section 334 of the Criminal Code and appeared first in court on Dec. 17.
She made her second appearance in court here Monday morning. She is scheduled to be back in court Feb. 19.
The first information to obtain a production order for financial or commercial information was filed Oct. 25.
The information filed on Dec. 31 also stated Lindberg’s duties at the high school had included handling petty cash, paying invoices, and controlling of the account. It was regular practice at the high school to have blank cheques signed for Lindberg to pay for school expenses.
A stamp of McCabe’s signature was made and used by Lindberg, the document states, and none of the signatures on the questionable cheques appeared to be fraudulent.
In the document, Lindberg was described by McCabe as an exemplary employee who was very efficient at her job and that he trusted her completely.
According to the document, Mills indicated to police the investigation into the missing money was not started sooner because schools quite often run in deficit.
But once the deficit continued to grow, she thought something was wrong and asked McCabe to look into it, the document says.
None of the allegations against Lindberg in the information sworn by Det. Cst. Hyatt have been proven in court, nor has she had the opportunity to answer them in court or even to enter a plea in the case.
(Fort Frances Times)