OKLAHOMA CITY -- A former secretary at a charter school is facing criminal charges, accused of pocketing nearly $10,000 instead of depositing it.
Viridiana Meza, 29, is charged with two counts of embezzlement and one count of falsifying corporate documents. She worked as an elementary school secretary in the Santa Fe South Schools Inc. charter district, according to an affidavit.
Meza, court documents show, began working at The Hills Elementary School in July 2016. The following month, according to an affidavit, she began making out deposit slips without depositing the money.
"She was entrusted to go to the bank and deposit some money the elementary school had," said Oklahoma City Police Officer Megan Morgan. "I don’t know exactly where the money was going but it clearly was not going into the bank account that belonged to the school."
Police say Meza took money that was bound for accounts that supplied fundraisers, uniforms and lunches.
Meza declined to comment when reached by phone but said she had hired an attorney. She would not tell NewsChannel 4 the attorney's name or contact information.
State auditor Gary Jones says he's seeing more and more cases of embezzlement.
"We’re seeing a real rash of that right now," he said. "Many times, it’s because they trust those employees blindly. But you need to verify. Once those controls are broken down, once people realize they can take a little bit of money, then next thing you know they’re taking a lot of money."
Jones said a lack of checks and balances often enables people to get away with embezzlement over periods of months or even years.
"It adds up real quick," he said. "It’s important that when you catch these people you do prosecute them because if not, then they move on to the next job and they do the same thing."
The superintendent at Santa Fe South Schools did not immediately return phone calls seeking comment.