Ex-Lake Ridge Schools business manager accused of stealing $133K

2013-05-07T16:01:00Z 2013-05-08T12:00:04Z Ex-Lake Ridge Schools business manager accused of stealing $133KElvia Malagon elvia.malagon@nwi.com, (219) 933-3246 nwitimes.com

CALUMET TOWNSHIP | A judge has frozen the assets of the former business manager of Lake Ridge Schools amid allegations he pocketed more than $130,000 of school funds, officials said.

James W. Huddleston, of Wheatfield, allegedly opened a savings account without the permission of the district's superintendent or School Board. He's accused of withdrawing $133,624.21, from July 2011 to April 2013, from the savings account through cash and checks, according to a release from Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller.

He used the funds to pay for personal expenses such as credit card bills, utility bills, medical bills, to make car payments and payments to wholesale stores, according to the release.

Huddleston owns a 2001 Lincoln Navigator, a 2003 Kia Rio, a 2006 Ford Five Hundred, a 2008 carry-on trailer and a 2012 Ford Taurus, according to court documents.

The savings account had more than $150,000, which came from the school's self-insurance fund, the release stated.

Huddleston's house, bank accounts and vehicles were frozen Tuesday by a judge in Jasper County until a full audit is completed. Huddleston couldn't be reached for comment Tuesday.

Information about the savings account began to unravel when the school's credit union reported suspicious activity on the account, according to the release.

He resigned April 3, citing personal financial problems. The Education Services Corp. was called in April to review the district's business matters. 

In March, the district decided to close Grissom Elementary School and outsource maintenance/janitorial services because of a $1.7 million deficit.

Sharon Johnson Shirley, the district's superintendent, did not return phone calls for comment Tuesday.

A hearing on the motion of prejudgment attachment and garnishment is scheduled for May 16.

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