LOS LUNAS—An investigation by the Los Lunas Police Department into $2,500 missing from the Los Lunas High School athletic department has begun.
Los Lunas Schools officials requested LLPD investigate the possible theft earlier this month. Sgt. Cassandra Kanyuck has been assigned to the case.
The money was discovered missing on June 11, but district officials did not report it to LLPD. They did report it to the district’s auditor, Cordova CPAs LLC, about two months later.
The CPA, Robert Cordova, said in a phone interview that he recalled it was late August or early September when Los Lunas Schools administrators reported the missing money to the firm.
“We talked to the school district and told them that if there was a crime they needed to report it,” Cordova said.
The CPA followed up a few weeks later to see if the district had informed the state auditor.
“A few weeks after that, they still hadn’t done it, so we said ‘Hey, you really need to get this done,’” Cordova said. “So, I think in early November is when they got around to it.”
Claire Cieremans, the Los Lunas Schools chief financial officer, notified the state auditor of the possible $2,500 theft on Nov. 14.
A reply from the state auditor was received on Dec. 17 and stated that such violations shall be reported to the state auditor immediately.
In a phone interview earlier this month, Superintendent Dana Sanders said an internal investigation of the incident and individual that was directly responsible for the cash and safe was conducted by school officials.
In the letter to the Office of the Sate Auditor, Cieremans wrote the individual who was directly responsible for the cash in the safe was not renewed for rehire and attempts to make contact failed.
Los Lunas Board of Education and finance committee member Brandon Campanella said he was notified about the missing money during the first meeting of the audit committee in October.
He and board vice president Brian Smith attended the first audit committee meeting together, Campanella said, and that an investigation was being conducted.
“The first audit committee meeting was either in October or late September, and at that point we were told about the missing $2,500,” Campanella said. “It was my understanding that the investigation was taking place and all information that needed to be given to the proper authorities was already given to them.”
Sonya C’Moya, board secretary and finance committee member, said she didn’t remember when she was notified.
“I don’t think that there was an identification of a crime being committed until they had fully vetted and looked to make sure it wasn’t deposited,” C’Moya said. “The audit revealed it hadn’t been (deposited) and I think that this is where it became a crime.”
She said one of the individuals who would have been actively involved with the deposit is no longer an employee and is not willing to discuss anything with the district’s school resource officer.
“I believe that is the point that (Superintendent Sanders) in fact said, ‘Alright then it becomes a police investigation — it’s no longer a school investigation,’”C’Moya said.
Board President Frank Otero, Vice President Brian C. Smith, audit committee chair, and board and audit committee member Milo Moody, were also contacted by the News-Bulletin, but they did not recall the date or month they were notified of the missing money.
Sanders said the district has filed a claim with their insurance company to try and recoup the $2,500 taken from LLHS.
The Los Lunas Board of Education approved the school district’s 2017-18 annual audit at the meeting Jan. 22. The district received an unqualified opinion, which means a clean audit, but there were two findings and both concerned money not being deposited within the mandated 24 hours at Valencia and Los Lunas high schools.