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June 21, 2010

Stolen lunch money

Lady pleads guilty to stealing cash from Anadarko Public Schools

— A 28-year-old Chickasha woman pleaded guilty recently in Caddo County District Court to stealing lunch money that belonged to the Anadarko Public Schools.

Court documents show that Tricia Nicole Bunnell was charged with one felony count of embezzlement for taking more than $3,000 between Jan. 1 and May 28, 2009, while employed in the school cafeteria.

An arrest affidavit filed by Anadarko police officer Brandon Britton stated that Bunnell was responsible for running the "Accuscan" machine, which is used to keep track of students' and faculty members' lunch accounts. The Accuscan operator is responsible for sending out payment reminders and collecting money that is paid into the accounts.

The Anadarko Food Service Director and her secretary provided Britton with handwritten receipts out of a receipt book that Bunnell had written and signed.

Court documents show that she had accepted cash money for several students' accounts but never posted the payments.

Britton reported that Bunnell would apparently take cash and then not charge the students for their meals.

"If they weren't charged for any meals, their accounts wouldn't increase and then over a period of time she would send out reminders and have the parents make another payment and she would continue to not charge the student for any meals. They told me that she had done this not only to the students but to several of the staff members and teachers as well," Bunnell wrote in the arrest affidavit.

"They told me that the school is not only out the money that she didn't post to the accounts, but they are also out the cost of the meals themselves that didn't get charged," he said.

Loss of Federal Money

In addition, Anadarko schools are out the state and federal money that is reimbursed for the reduced and free meal program.

"They provided me with 31 different accounts, both students and staff, that were not correct. These accounts were the ones that Tricia had on her lists and it appears that she was trying to keep track on paper the balances and when payments were made," Britton reported.

Records show a warrant was issued for Bunnell's arrest in July 2009 after she did not return Britton's calls.

In addition, an employee of the district attorney's office said Bunnell had not been checking in with them as agreed on a previous case.

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