A Scott County grand jury on Tuesday indicted the former food service director at the Oneida Special School District on felony theft-related charges.
An investigation by the Tennessee Comptroller's Office found that Verna Wright, the school system's former food service director, misappropriated at least $60,532 in funds, according to a statement by the office of Comptroller Justin P. Wilson.
The office of 8th Judicial District Attorney General Jared Effler said in a statement Wednesday that Wright, 61, was indicted on charges of theft over $60,000 and official misconduct. The D.A.'s office said that Wright misappropriated funds "for per personal benefit."
The comptroller's office said that Wright purchased eight computers, three iPads, eight iPods and more than 100 phone cases and decorations for Samsung cell phones, while also using more than $2,500 to purchase more than 65 Vera Bradley designer bags.
"School district officials allowed Wright to use her personal credit cards to make purchases and pay the balances with food service funds," Wilson's office said in the statement. "Investigators determined Wright made numerous purchases with school funds that did not benefit OSSD's food service operations or the school district in general."
The investigation began after OSSD Director of Schools Dr. Jeanny Hatfield noticed unusual purchases that were being made with food service funds and contacted the comptroller's office to investigate.
Allegedly, Wright admitted to investigators in April that she had purchased "numerous items that were not for the benefit of the OSSD food service program," the comptroller's office said. "She later returned several carloads of items, many of which had been kept in her basement and were still in their original packaging."
The comptroller's office alleged that the purchases had taken place over a five-year period.
Wright's contract of employment with the school system was allowed to expire in June.
Effler's office said that a warrant for Wright's arrest was issued on Tuesday. An initial court appearance has been scheduled for Tuesday, Sept. 5, at 8:30 a.m.