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Former Bruton High School Employee Sentenced After Stealing Thousands From School Funds
Submitted by Sarah Wilson

YCSDS imageOn Thursday, May 24, 2018, Charlene Denise Flood-Liggon was sentenced in the Circuit Court of York County and the City of Poquoson for nine (9) counts of Embezzlement and fifteen (15) counts of Forgery involving the theft of student activity funds from Bruton High School between January 1, 2012 and June 2016. A financial audit by the York County School Division and the financial investigation of the crime by the York- Poquoson Sheriff’s Office and the Office or the Attorney General revealed that Flood-Liggon had stolen approximately $150,000 over the four year period. Flood-Liggon had entered guilty pleas to the twenty four (24) felony counts on January 30, 2018.

When Flood-Liggon was questioned by school personnel about why the funds over which she had control were at such a low balance. Flood-Liggon reportedly gave the following explanation: "You don't understand, these kids are poor.”

Bill Bowen, Chief Financial Officer of the York County School Division, submitted a letter to the Court which stated: "Ms. Flood-Liggon stole from the very students she was there to serve. She went to great lengths to conceal her illegal actions and in doing so, impacted the potential opportunities for hundreds of students from the classes of 2009—2015 at Bruton High. Activity funds can typically be used to support new uniforms, equipment purchases, club activities, field trips and other student- centered programs.”

Mr. Bowen went on to state that, on June 30, 2015: the student activity fund balance totaled $20,693. Today, Bruton High School has a student activity fund balance in excess of $152,000. Since Flood-Liggon's employment was terminated in 2016, the Bruton High administration has been able to purchase three new outdoor scoreboards, field tarps, uniforms and many other items. Additionally, many student activities have been funded in order to provide the same amenities and experiences that students at other York County high schools enjoy.

The Sentencing Guidelines promulgated by the Virginia Sentencing Commission recommended that Flood-Liggon be sentenced to serve a period of active incarceration ranging from two years, eleven months, at the low end, to seven years and eleven months at the high end. The midpoint of the Sentencing Guidelines recommendation was an active period or incarceration of five years, eleven months. The Sentencing Guidelines are discretionary. After considering a pre-sentence report and hearing argument by Benjamin M. Hahn. Commonwealth's Attorney for York County and the City of Poquoson, and from defense counsel for Flood-Liggon, the Court sentenced Flood-Liggon to serve twentysix years in prison, however, all but three years of such incarceration was suspended. Flood-Liggon was also ordered to pay $5,000.00 to the York County School Board as restitution for the out-of-pocket loss sustained by the School Board. The School Board's insurance carrier reimbursed the School Board for the remainder of the funds stolen by Flood-Liggon. The insurance company will be able to pursue Flood-Liggon civilly to recover the funds paid to the School Board.

Commonwealth's Attorney Hahn wishes to extend his sincere appreciation to Investigator Robert Blinco of the York-Poquoson Sheriff’s Office and to Howard M. Mulholland, Senior Financial Investigator, Office of the Attorney General, for their exceptionally diligent and detailed investigation of this serious breach of the public trust. Commonwealth’s Attorney Hahn also commends Ms. Arletha Dockery who became Principal of Bruton High School for the 2015 school year. Ms. Dockery had the courage to make diligent inquiry into the financial irregularities as soon as they came to her attention. Had she not, Flood- Liggon's thievery would have never come to light. For her efforts, Ms. Dockery was slandered, ridiculed and worse. In the end, however, it is abundantly clear that Ms. Dockery is the true hero of this sad saga. The citizens of York County owe her a debt of gratitude.


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