Crime

Former bookkeeper stole thousands from Manatee school, police say

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A former bookkeeper is accused of stealing more than $27,000 from Braden River High School while also lying about her employment and collecting government benefits.

Typhani Butler, 30, is set to appear for a jury trial on Dec. 31. Her trial involves a charge of welfare fraud, while a second case involves the alleged scheme to defraud — both felony offenses.

Butler was released on bonds totaling $10,000 after her arrests in June and July, later pleading not guilty in both cases.

She declined to comment on Tuesday evening.

The district hired Butler as an assistant bookkeeper in August 2014. Braden River’s head bookkeeper, Ann Mannino, took over for Butler while she was out sick in February, according to the school district’s report.

Mannino discovered issues with Butler’s records, and she soon realized $2,750 was missing from the school’s safe. After the head bookkeeper contacted her, Butler said the money was locked in her desk, according to the report.

School staff unlocked the desk and found no money, so a district investigator met with Butler at her home on Feb 20.

“Ms. Butler did not offer any explanation for the deposit discrepancies or missing funds, but asked what would happen if the money was returned,” the report states.

Butler submitted her resignation the same day, and district officials went on to file a report with the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office.

A criminal complaint, filed on June 5, said the school district audited Braden River and detailed a loss of $27,367.

The alleged fraud took place between August 2017 and February 2018, according to a report from the state attorney’s office.

On June 25, police arrested Butler and charged her with a scheme to defraud more than $20,000. She is scheduled for case management on Dec. 5.

Butler is also accused of cheating the welfare system during her time as a bookkeeper, a job she failed to report when filing for public assistance between October 2014 and December 2015, according to a report from the Florida Department of Financial Services.

On four applications, Butler allegedly said she was not employed. The state’s Division of Public Assistance Fraud quoted Butler’s application from Dec. 10, 2014:

“My mother pays for my housing cost/expenses as long as (I) maintain a 3.0 GPA while in college,” the comment states.

Though she earned more than $22,000 in gross wages from the school district between August 2014 to December 2015, Butler still marked herself as unemployed, according to the state’s report.

The report said Butler received nearly $6,600 in assistance: $4,670 in food stamps from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), and about $1,900 in Medicaid benefits.

“When asked why she did not report her employment she stated that she was not trying to get over on anything and that she wishes she had been more thorough,” the report states.

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