Ex-LaPorte schools chief, wife face more gambling counts

2014-03-24T17:25:00Z 2014-03-25T06:50:04Z Ex-LaPorte schools chief, wife face more gambling countsStan Maddux Times Correspondent nwitimes.com
March 24, 2014 5:25 pm  • 

The former LaPorte schools superintendent and his wife have been hit with more gambling-related charges.

This time, the couple was arrested in Illinois about two months after being arrested in Mississippi for allegedly manipulating a slot machine.

Rande and Virginia Thorpe posted $5,000 cash bond Friday and were allowed by a judge in Will County Circuit Court to return to Texas where they now live while their cases are pending, according to court documents.

Rande Thorpe, 57, is charged with 19 felony counts including "cheat at gambling game," computer fraud to obtain money and burglary.

Virginia Thorpe, 58, is charged with 14 felony counts all involving similar allegations, court records disclosed.

No specific dollar amounts were listed, but several of the counts allege more than $10,000 was stolen during each offense.

On Jan. 22, the Thorpes were arrested in Tunica, Miss., on a charge of gaming violation.

The Thorpes were allegedly involved in a more than $66,000 loss to Harris Casino in Robinsonville in the northwest part of the state, according to the probable cause affidavit that resulted in the charges.

It's alleged the money was taken by manipulating a shot machine from April 17 to April 19, according to the affidavit.

His arrest in Mississippi occurred just a few days after he resigned as interim schools superintendent, a position he had held since July. Thorpe, prior to that, was the school corporation's chief financial officer for about four years.

LaPorte School Board President Mike Kellems said there were no indications that Thorpe was involved in any sort of criminal activity before his first arrest. He also said the alleged activity does not appear connected in any way to the school corporation.

Kellems also said there appears to be no missing school corporation funds but another audit of the school district's books is likely now that he's been arrested a second time.

"It's a shame that it's come to light," said Kellems, adding, "Rande was a good employee for us. He was very hardworking, He was very loyal and he was very dedicated when he was here."

A May 9 pretrial conference was set for both defendants in the Illinois case before Will County Circuit Court Judge Dan Rozak, according to court records.

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