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Former DOE employee arrested for allegedly stealing $69,000 from a school


A former Pearl Ridge Elementary secretary has been arrested for allegedly stealing $69,000 from the school by cashing checks written to herself.

The 40-year-old Waipahu woman was arrested at her Noheaiki Place home at 2:05 p.m. Wednesday on suspicion one count of first-degree theft, one count of money laundering, and 99 counts of second-degree forgery.

Police said the woman committed the offenses between 2008 and 2010 while working for the Department of Education. She has been released pending investigation.

The Department of Education said the woman was first employed as an educational assistant at Pearl Ridge Elementary in July 2000, became a clerk typist in 2003 and moved to the position for school secretary in June 2007. She was terminated last September, the department said.

Her name remained on the school’s website staff listing today as the special administrative services assistant, also known as the school secretary.

Last month, a Pearl City school secretary was sentenced to 450 hours of community service and required to write a letter of apology for stealing more than $13,000 from Lehua Elementary.

Janel Echiberi, 35, pleaded guilty to forgery and theft for using the school’s Sam’s Club credit card from 2004 to 2008 to buy tires, a king-size bed, a high-definition TV, a digital camera, clothing, food and alcohol.

She also pleaded guilty to theft for putting her name on the school’s payroll as a tutor and receiving three months of compensation even though she was not a tutor.

Fay Toyama said 2004 was her first year as principal at Lehua Elementary and she relied on Echiberi as the secretary.

The money Echiberi stole was not state funds but money from fundraisers and donations that the school collected for student reward and enrichment programs. Echiberi has since paid the money back.



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