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Former bookkeeper arrested for stealing funds from Ottumwa Christian School over a 5 year period

By Jefferson Tyler, Multimedia Journalist

OTTUMWA, IA (KYOU) – The Ottumwa Christian School District is again facing misfortune. According to Ottumwa Police, a bookkeeper for the school was arrested for allegedly taking more than $160,000 from the school. The news comes after the school caught fire earlier this year and had to move to a new location.

“She worked for the school for a long time. My kids know her. I know her. It’s drastic,” said Ottumwa Christian School Parent Karen Pester. She is one of dozens of parents shocked to find out Ottumwa Christian’s reported bookkeeper Joni Stinson was arrested. Charged with 4 felony counts in regards to the school’s funds.

“She was writing checks to herself, or cash. And altering the books so it wasn’t apparent the money was missing,” said Wapello County Attorney Gary Oldenburger.

According to a police complaint, more than 230 checks were written from 2010 to 2015.  More than a $160,000 allegedly missing. Taken from the school’s accounts. According to Wapello County prosecutor Gary Oldenburger, a changing of the guard on the district’s school board, led to the discovery.

“The new treasurer came in and was familiarizing himself with the accounts and what was going on with the funds. And I think that’s the person who realized something was wrong,” said Oldenburger.

Stinson is charged with ongoing criminal conduct, money laundering, theft in the first degree and forgery.

Oldenburger says cases like these can be easily avoided.

“Require two signatures on checks. Have two people overseeing the books, and seeing how the books are managed,” said Oldenburger.

Here’s what Ottumwa Christian’s school principal had to say about the case, “I can tell you it’s been turned over to the authorities, it’s under investigation. Other than that, no comment.”

Pester however, has a much different point of view.

“We pay a lot of money to go here. And that could have helped the school, it could have helped everything. Lunches. Gym. The whole works,” said Pester.

Stinson is out on a thirty-two thousand dollar bond. She is innocent until proven guilty and awaiting trial at this time.


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