Former employee accused of embezzling from Nicollet Public Schools

A former employee tasked with payroll is accused of embezzling tens of thousands of dollars from Nicollet Public Schools.

Lisa Cheryl Bode, 57, was charged Friday with one felony count of embezzlement of public funds and seven counts of felony theft in Nicollet County Court.

A criminal complaint says Bode overpaid herself  $32,462.49 between January 2021 and May 2023 using the school’s payroll system.  The school reported the matter to police in June 2023.

The school superintendent told investigators he approved Bode’s timecard, but she entered her own time for payroll.

An audit by the state showed that Bode had worked 2,246 hours between March 2021 and June 2023, but was paid for working 3,037 hours.  The audit also found that Bode was paid $1,600 for ten days of substitute teaching – $160 per day.  School officials told police she had never acted as a sub or been approved for overtime hours.

Police say Bode overpaid herself 22 times total, at first with small discrepancies.  Investigators say in April 2022, Bode worked 190 hours, but logged 447 hours in the payroll system.  The complaint says she reported 396 work hours in December 2022, but had only worked 96.

The complaint says Bode also made “numerous” and “significant” cash withdrawals from her personal accounts close to the times the large overpayments occurred.  Investigators say she also made “several large expenditures for recreational purposes,” and would have overdrawn her account without the embezzled funds.

Bode told investigators the superintendent had approved her $160 payments for sitting in classrooms when a teacher was late or gone.  She also claimed he had approved a pay increase that included back pay, and work she did in her off hours.  She allegedly admitted to claiming one hour of work for every text, email, or phone call she received, a total of 250 billable hours.

The superintendent said employees had received a raise, but did not receive back pay.


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