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Former school employee arrested
By CHRIS COLLINS
The Baker School District’s former accounts payable specialist who also served as the secretary/treasurer for the Baker Rural Fire Protection District has been charged with stealing from both agencies.
The Baker County Sheriff’s Department arrested Carol Dianne Srack, 55, of 14390 Butler Lane, Wednesday morning at her home.
Srack began her employment with the school district as a part-time worker in April 1991. The investigation of the allegations against Srack were at the center of the Baker School Board’s recent action to censure director Kyle Knight, who first released information about the alleged crimes to the media.
Srack was charged in two secret indictments issued by a grand jury, said District Attorney Matt Shirtcliff.
In her role with the school district, Srack was charged with one count of first-degree theft, a Class C felony; and one count of second-degree theft, two counts of fraudulent use of a credit card, and one count of first-degree official misconduct, all Class A misdemeanors.
As the fire district’s secretary/treasurer, Srack was charged with two counts of first-degree theft, one count of fraudulent use of a credit card and one count of first-degree official misconduct.
In a March 16 email to Knight, Baker Schools Superintendent Walt Wegener wrote that Srack had been placed on paid leave and that she was to be fired on March 19. Wegener has declined any public comment about the investigation.
In a March 20 email to the Baker City Herald, Wegener wrote, “I would like the police and DA to have a clear opportunity to complete and prosecute as appropriate. We are cooperating with their outside investigation in every way possible.”
The School Board voted 3-2 on April 10 to censure Knight. Board chair Lynne Burroughs contends Knight violated his oath of office by releasing what she deems confidential information about the investigation into Srack’s alleged thefts.
Srack was arraigned Thursday in Baker County Circuit Court and was granted a conditional release from jail.
According to the indictments, the school district thefts took place in two separate time periods. The second-degree theft charge is alleged to have happened between July 17, 2010, and Dec. 1, 2010. Srack is accused of using an Albertsons Advantage Card “for the purpose of obtaining school funds,” of $100 or more, which was not authorized by the district.
The official misconduct charge alleges that Srack used her position with the district, and the district’s Advantage card, to make unauthorized purchases of groceries and other personal items during that same time period.
Marc Ruberti, Albertsons manager, said schools and other businesses or agencies use the Albertsons Advantage Card, which is similar to a credit card, to track purchases made by authorized users with a personal identification number (PIN).
The first-degree theft charge accuses Srack of using the district’s charge accounts to buy personal items at Bi-Mart and D&B Supply.
In addition, according to the indictment, Srack used the district’s Albertsons Advantage Card to make unauthorized purchases of assorted groceries from the Albertsons store valued at more than $1,000.
The allegations related to Srack’s service with the Baker Rural Fire District accuse her of using the fire district’s credit card to buy gas for personal use. One count of first-degree theft alleges that she charged more than $1,000 worth of gas between Aug. 13, 2010, and Jan. 29, 2011, at Black’s Distributing using the fire district’s credit card.
The second count of first-degree theft from the fire district is alleged to have happened between Feb. 2, 2011, and July 28, 2011. She is accused of using her role as the district’s secretary/treasurer to charge unauthorized purchases of gasoline totaling more than $1,000 on the fire district’s account for her personal use.
Srack also was a member of the fire district’s five-member board and a former board chair. She was first elected to a four-year term on the board in May 2007 and then re-elected to another four-year term in 2011, according to the County Clerk’s office. Srack resigned from the position this week, said John Rohner, board chair.
Other board members are Collin Kaseberg, Jim White and Gus Markgraf. They are researching the process for filling Srack’s board position, Rohner said. Her term expires in 2015.
Srack was hired as the fire district’s part-time secretary/treasurer in April or May of 2010, Rohner said. She was released from the role in November 2011 for reasons unrelated to the theft investigation, he said.