Independent TribuneNews, Top Police search for former school officer accused of embezzlement

Police search for former school officer accused of embezzlement

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Sandi Louise Vielbaum, who worked at Carolina International School since 2004, is accused of embezzling $137,000 from the school.

By Justin Vick and Josh Lanier
Staff writers

The Cabarrus County Sheriff’s Office has issued an arrest warrant for a former Carolina International School finance officer accused of embezzling more than $137,000 from the Harrisburg school.

Sandi Louise Vielbaum, 57, of 9584 Marqueet St., Concord, is wanted for felony embezzlement after police say she took school funds over the course of two years. Police said they are unsure of her whereabouts.

“It’s a very shocking and disappointing situation for our whole school and families,” said school director Richard Beall.

Beall contacted the sheriff’s office Friday after an audit revealed missing money, a police report stated. Vielbaum oversaw and prepared monthly reports on the school’s accounts for its board of directors, the report stated.

Cabarrus Sheriff’s Detective Lewis Burgess refused to comment, citing an ongoing investigation, but said Vielbaum is also wanted for fraud charges in the Phoenix area.

She began working at the school a few months after it opened in fall 2004, Beall said. She is no longer employed there, he said.

She began the school year as chair of Northwest Cabarrus High School’s PTSA, but because of missed meetings was removed from the position before handling any money, said Jeanette Trexler, a Cabarrus County Schools spokesperson.

Beall sent a letter to staff and parents noting how the incident would not affect the school’s educational programming or schedule.

The school has worked hard to create a very strong school climate at Carolina International School, Beall said, noting the charter school being classified as a School of Distinction the past two years.

“We’re going to continue on to be a strong education choice for families in this region,” Beall said.

The school has an insurance policy providing up to $250,000 in coverage for incidents such as this, Beall said.

“This is something we have taken very seriously as a school administration and board of directors,” Beall said, noting they are working with the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction. “We’re in the process of reviewing a lot of our internal controls to ensure this could not absolutely happen again in the future.”

School embezzlement cases tend to be few and far between, according to Paul Lesieur, school business director for the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction.

“If school systems have good internal controls, they can head off some of these problems before they start,” Lesieur said.

Both of Cabarrus County’s public school systems submit their financial records to an outside auditor who reports their findings to school board members.

“They go through everything with a fine-tooth comb to make sure everything is there,” said Ellen Boyd, spokesperson for Kannapolis City Schools.

Both school systems also employ a “separation of duties” concept to financial departments at each school and the system level.

That ensures the same person reconciling the bank statement isn’t receiving or depositing checks, said Kelly Kluttz, finance director for Cabarrus County Schools.

“Staffing is really the key,” Lesieur said. “At smaller schools, you have people wearing so many hats, it’s difficult to have a good separation of duties when it comes to checks and balances.”

• Contact Justin Vick: 704-789-9138 Contact Josh Lanier: 704-789-9144.


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