Mankato Lunch Lady Guilty, Stole $5,600 From Cooks’ Association

(Mankato, MN) – A 39-year-old woman has pleaded guilty to theft by swindle for stealing thousands of dollars from the Association of Cooks with the Mankato Area Public Schools, while she served as the group’s treasurer.

Nikki Jo Johnson of Lake Crystal will be sentenced in November. If she has paid back all the money by then, her plea deal calls for no jail time.

In addition to being the association treasurer, Johnson served as the head cook at Dakota Meadows Middle School in North Mankato.

According to the complaint, Johnson transferred nearly $5,600 dollars from the Association of Cooks’ account into her own personal bank account and the bank account of her boyfriend.

When Johnson was confronted about the missing money, police say she sent an email to the association, hoping police wouldn’t have to be involved.

“I did something stupid and I don’t want to get in trouble for this,” Johnson said in the email. “I will do anything to fix this. I just don’t want you guys to hate me and look down on me. I messed up. Please can we fix this together. I am sorry.”

The account is funded through dues paid by the cooks in the Mankato Area Public School District, and the money is used for various expenses, including the cost to be represented in biennial contract negotiations.

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Photo credit: USDA/Flickr.

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