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School District Employee Pleads Guilty to Embezzling Over $250,000

Crime

DeSoto Independent School District building | Image by Kristin Barclay

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An employee of the DeSoto Independent School District admitted to embezzling more than $250,000 from the district, according to a news release from the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ).

Former DeSoto ISD Director of Energy Management Terry Lynn Sanders, 57, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud. Sanders could now spend up to five years in prison.


Sanders’ position with the school district involved overseeing the district’s energy budget, paying bills associated with energy, and coordinating with contractors and vendors, The Dallas Morning News reported. He had access to a school district credit card to handle these expenses.

He acknowledged in his plea documents that he made 30 payments totaling $255,100 to an outside business using the credit card issued by the school district, the DOJ press release stated.

The company’s owner, referred to in court records as “individual A,” subsequently kicked back a portion of each payment to Sanders, amounting to almost $100,000 in total, stated the DOJ press release. The business and its owner never provided any services to the district, according to Sanders.

“He is aware of the impact and the consequences of his conduct — for a community and a school district that mean so much for him,” stated Nick Oberheiden, Sanders’ attorney. “Mr. Sanders’ acceptance of responsibility is the first, not the last step, to make good and to give back to the district.”

Sanders added that he made seven payments totaling $17,466 to a fake vendor linked to his own bank account using the credit card in order to evaluate the district’s oversight of the card.

“Sanders admits that he engaged in this scheme as a test to see if he could charge his school district credit card and receive payments accordingly in his personal bank account,” according to documents filed in court, The Dallas Morning News reported.

The Dallas Field Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation conducted the probe. Marcus Busch, an assistant U.S. attorney, is in charge of the prosecution.     

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