A former New Mexico high school secretary may repay a $ 90,000 loan.




CHOICE – A former employee accused of embezzling more than $ 130,000 from Deming High School never faced charges and was instead allowed to pay off $ 90,000 in loan.

Special audit conducted in 2017, recruited 37-year-old Beatrice Armendariz, a former high school secretary, into a model suspicion of fraud, waste and forgery she worked there for four years.

Missing or misappropriated funds included student tuition fees, purchase card transactions, and donations intended for a local non-profit organization.

More than $ 140,000 was not accounted for, in part because forensic accountants discovered that evidence in Deming’s public schools had been destroyed, including rubbed hard drives and shredded receipts.

The results were reported to law enforcement, but Armendaris was never charged with the crime.

The district charged $ 130,000. from the New Mexico Public Schools Insurance Board in 2018. At the time, Deming police said they would send the case for additional forensic examination, but little was heard of the investigation since then.

Meanwhile, the new administration of the traffic police started revising its internal control and accounting procedures.

Lost funds converted into a loan

District and insurance authority sued the former secretary in 2019 in search of foreclosure $ 131,175. Last year, the parties agreed to an amicable settlement, under which Armendaris signed a bill of exchange for the payment of $ 90,000 over 20 years.

On Tuesday, in a telephone conversation, Armendaris said she would send inquiries to a lawyer. She represented herself in court.

Beginning in September, Armendaris pledged to pay six monthly installments of US $ 200, then six installments of US $ 300, and then US $ 400 monthly until the interest-free “loan” is repaid.

“It is our understanding that the district attorney did not open a criminal case due to poor documentation and concerns about the ability to prove the necessary elements for sentencing, as well as the total amount that was allegedly missing,” – Richard Valerio, executive director of the agency. wrote in Las Cruces Sun-News

During June, according to agency reports, Armendaris made 10 required payments up to this point, albeit not on schedule – for example, no payments were recorded in April, while two payments were published in June.

The records indicate that she continued to pay $ 200 even after the $ 300 payments were due to begin in March. In total, she paid $ 2,000, which is $ 400 behind schedule.

The entire $ 90,000 is due by September 2040. The bill includes a default and accelerated payment clause, which states that if late payments are not cleared within 30 days, the entire balance is due immediately and Armendaris is responsible for collection and enforcement costs.

Valerio acknowledged that it can be difficult to get the full amount, especially if Armendaris is seeking bankruptcy protection. At this point, the agency will need to file a petition for coercion and attempts to join any bankruptcy estate, which Valerio said is “extremely difficult to fulfill and secure.”

Armendariz was not the only one who participated in the special audit that Jaramillo’s accounting team prepared for the public auditor’s office at the expense of the school district.

Report accused the school district of weak oversight and poor accounting procedureswhich allowed misuse and possible withdrawal of public money for years even after numerous employees expressed concerns to the administration.

While numerous employees reported suspicions that the secretary was mismanaging money, auditors said no action was taken until Armendaris resigned to move to another job in 2016. Investigators also provided evidence that financial officials may have adjusted balance sheets to avoid audit findings.

In 2017, Superintendent Dr. Dan Lehr retired he was followed by the district financial director and the commercial director, who left the new administration will fight the report

Two longtime DPS employees – Deming Senior Director Janean Garney and Assistant Superintendent Ray Trejo – were placed on administrative leave for the remainder of their contracts by the next Superintendent, Arsenio Romero.

Garney went on to work at Silver Consolidated Schools in Grant County. Trejo sues the county in 2019 alleging that through special screening, he misrepresented his role in the initial investigation and response, as well as discrimination and harassment by Romero and the school board. His complaint was dismissed in federal court in April.

Valerio said that collecting the debt could be long and cumbersome, but given the lack of evidence and the lack of prosecution, “we believe that the agreement (Armendariz) was made was reasonable.”

Algernon D’Ammassa can be called at 575-541-5451. adammassa@lcsun-news.com or @AlgernonWrites on Twitter.


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