School budget officer sentenced to 2 years prison

by beth on November 15, 2016

Last week, the man who embezzled more than $380,000 from Northborough-Southborough public schools was convicted of the crime.

Budget officer Christopher Hoey was arrested in March after the superintendent’s office noticed financial irregularities and reported them to police. He confessed to depositing vendor payments to petty cash, then making checks out to cash.

On Thursday, Hoey was sentenced to 2 years in prison (minus the 254 days served while waiting trial) and three years probation. The former school employee pled guilty and apparently agreed to a plea deal with the prosecutor’s office.

Hoey claimed the money was used to fuel his drug addiction. He also said that he originally intended to reimburse the funds but got in over his head.

The original $383,602 in stolen funds weren’t restored, but the school’s insurance has covered the loss.

For more details, you can read the telegram.com’s coverage here.

{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Frank Crowell November 15, 2016 at 2:02 PM

Just to recap: Perpetrator 2 years in jail. Consequences for the superintendent or anyone in her management chain: Zero. Icing on the cake would be glowing reviews all the way around.

Comment from the education committees:______________________

Increased education budget as far as the eye can see – no doubt.

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2 louise barron November 15, 2016 at 10:06 PM

This is sickening. The superintendent is the top cop. She is culpable for this and should be held liable and disciplined.

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3 Jack November 16, 2016 at 9:46 AM

Obviously there was a segregation of duties issue – I’m not fully up to speed on the topic, but was that a new issue caused by this superintendent’s restructuring, or had it been in place for years (decades?), and previous budget officers had just been law-abiding employees? My point is, it’s hard to say how much blame this superintendent has without knowing what she walked in to versus what she herself set up as the structure within treasury.

I’d like to think the superintendent has learned from this experience and is stronger now for it. I know people like to form quick and decisive conclusions. When those conclusions are hostile soundbites about a top cop, you’re doing a good job of convincing me to give her the benefit of the doubt even though I know almost nothing about the case. You’d be more convincing to me if you justify those soundbites with actual facts and details leading you to make the comments.

What is cut and dry is that the real criminal is the former budget officer (that’s what this article is about). The “top cop” did ultimately uncover and report this to police. Did the insurance premiums go up? Is that what she should be held liable for? No other unrecovered losses that I’m aware of.

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4 DJD66 November 16, 2016 at 8:06 AM

Louise and Frank – an employee was stealing and got caught. I believe the loss was covered by insurance. This could (unfortunately) happen anywhere.

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5 Frank Crowell November 17, 2016 at 6:45 AM

Yes, the perpetrator was found guilty, but it is way too easy to say insurance paid for the loss, the superintendent has learned a lesson, and external audit recommendations have been implemented.

The embezzlement went on for months (more than 12 if memory serves me well) and the guilty party was hired after her appointment as superintendent. This is a large red flag to the internal culture of the office. I find it impossible to believe that no one knew this was happing or had zero suspicion of wrong doing.

Did any one of the education committees do any questioning of the office personnel? Did they dig deeper than go out to lunch with superintendent? Are drug tests now done on new hires (most certainly was not done prior)? We’ll never know until it happens again.

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6 louise barron November 16, 2016 at 2:31 PM

Who do you think pays the increase in insurance. Let’s see. mmmmmmmm. Get serious.
Insurance companies get wealthy for this type of a crime.

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7 Jack November 17, 2016 at 11:30 AM

What is the increase in insurance? I haven’t seen any dollar amount on that yet. And I think you have the insurance model wrong – they don’t make money when they pay out over $380k, they make money when they collect premiums without having to pay any claims.

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8 Concerned Parent November 17, 2016 at 7:47 AM

The Superintendent is ultimately responsible for what goes on over there at the schools. If she did not have the school committee in her back pocket, things may have turned out differently for her. As a reminder to everyone who votes the school committee are ELECTED and we have the power to “clean house” next time around. She is a disgrace to her position as is the highest money person in that office. Lets sweep it under the rug and the stupid people in this town will never know. If this were any other organization, the top dogs responsible would have immediately been fired. She and her administration have committed the biggest f u to the townspeople and there has been no recourse. Shameful, utterly shameful.

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9 em November 17, 2016 at 11:51 AM

Keep in mind that there is a serious shortage of superintendents in Massachusetts. If we fire ours, we should prepare for a revolving door of superintendents – and for the lack of progress that accompanies such a scenario – for the next several years.

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10 Concerned Parent November 17, 2016 at 10:36 PM

So we keep one that is incompetent. If you look back, Gobron was here for 8 or 9 years. Melican was here as far back as I can remember. We had an interim and then hired Joseph who left because she died just before Gobron. IF you have a good district, they come and they stay. A so called shortage is no reason not to do the right thing.

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11 louise barron November 17, 2016 at 12:05 PM

So, what have we learned. That the Super was asleep. That these crimes happen at the local level, and that there isn’t anyone minding the store or the storekeeper. This is your money folks. You should be outraged. A disciplinary and competency hearing should be done on the Superintendent.

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12 SboroMa November 17, 2016 at 3:44 PM

While I agree that there should be a demand for accountability, I would first be interested to learn more about the inner structure of the the Superintendents office. Who was the direct manager of this Budget Officer or was he directly under the Superintendent? My guess is that Ms Johnston entrusts the financials to either an Assistant Superintent or a Director of Finance. Those are the people that need to be held accountable alongside the Superintendent. This reeks of incompetence and negligence. Petty cash management is Accounting 101 and the fact that it went unnoticed for so long should be a serious concern to all. Ultimately someone in that office needs to accept responsibility for this entirely preventable crime.We as Townspeople should DEMAND that.

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13 Concerned Parent November 17, 2016 at 10:41 PM

I have such a hard time believing that we are willing to just let it go. There is a Business Director and I am willing to bet he is she was the direct supervisor. In my opinion both the Business Director and Superintendent should be gone. We as the people footing the bill for this injustice, should NOT stand by and do nothing. School committe members do you hear that we want justice, or will you also do nothing about this? This is YOUR problem as the Superintendent answers directly to you!

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14 louise barron November 18, 2016 at 1:15 PM

“Concerned parent”. You contact the School Committee and speak out if you are angry. Don’t just write it online. Use your real name.

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