Police: Janesville school bookkeeper steals more than $300K

A bookkeeper at Craig High School in Janesville is suspected of embezzling more than $300,000 over nine years, according to Janesville police.

The Janesville Police Department said Jessica L. Warner-Reed, 33, of Janesville, was arrested after an investigation that started in July 2015, when the school district reported possible embezzlement.

Police said that in her job, Warner-Reed collected fees from 140 clubs, teams and groups. The investigation involved documents from 2006 to 2015.

Warner-Reed was arrested on suspicion of embezzlement of more than $10,000, misconduct in public office, 10 counts of forgery and six counts of tax fraud. She turned herself in on Tuesday. She’s scheduled to appear in court on Jan. 25.

“The detective opened his conversation with Warner-Reed of the question of why are you here, Warner-Reed’s one word answer was “greed,” Janesville Police Chief David Moore said. “She was able to either remove cash or on 10 occasions she made out a check to either herself or her husband and deposited it into her bank account.”

The districts finance department conducted an internal audit between July 10, 2015, and July 16, 2015, where they uncovered discrepancies in financial records.

Warner-Reed resigned in August after being placed on administrative leave.

Superintendent Karen Schulte said the school’s students activity funds are audited by an external auditor every year and did not notice the missing funds.

“Although the district provides an accounting manual and mandatory training to all school bookkeepers, it is still possible for those so inclined to abuse their position of trust,” Schulte said.

Moore said Warner-Reed stole funds initially in small portions, but over the years the amount and frequency of alleged stealing increased.

“This was perhaps perplexing on this because there weren’t those large purchases, those extravagant trips. It simply went to housing, clothing, pet care, furnishings, taking care of her family,” he said.

The school district updated their policies on cash handling in December by the Districts Finance Building and Grounds Committee. All checks now need to be physically signed by the principal before being processed. Previously, checks could be given a stamp approval.

District officials said funds were used to restore accounts to their determined balances as of Aug. 1, 2015.