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School secretaries accused of $200,000 theft

/ Source: The Associated Press

Two secretaries at an elementary school are accused of helping themselves to $200,000 in school money for personal items ranging from cigarettes and clothing to jewelry and computer equipment.

Karen Boucher and Renee Scriven, who worked for P.S. 132 in the Bronx, were able to elude authorities for three years because they had "unbridled access to the school's finances," Richard Condon, special commissioner of investigation for the city's school system, said in a report Tuesday.

Scriven, the school's payroll secretary, paid Boucher thousands of dollars in unearned overtime, and Boucher, who was the school's business liaison, showered thousands of dollars worth of items on Scriven, Condon said.

The commissioner said Scriven admitted that only one-third of the items the women purchased actually went to the school. They are accused of entering false transactions from September 2002 to December 2005 to buy, among other things, a portable DVD player, a diamond ring and digital cameras.

Condon has referred the case to the Bronx district attorney's office, which declined comment Wednesday. He recommended that the secretaries be fired and pay back the money they are accused of stealing.

The Board of Education said in a statement Wednesday that it was seeking the secretaries' termination and would explore "strategies to strengthen our auditing procedures."

Boucher, 39, and Scriven, 55, had not retained lawyers as of Wednesday, according to the commissioner's office.

A call to Boucher's home was not answered. A phone number for Scriven could not immediately be found.