Education

She stole $27,000 from a Manatee school, authorities said. Here is her sentence

Former Braden River bookkeeper gets 5 days in jail; 15 years probation

Typhani Butler, a former bookkeeper at Braden River High, allegedly stole $27,000 from the school and collected unemployment benefits while working for the school district. She was sentenced on May 22.
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Typhani Butler, a former bookkeeper at Braden River High, allegedly stole $27,000 from the school and collected unemployment benefits while working for the school district. She was sentenced on May 22.

A Palmetto woman was sentenced to 15 years of probation and five days in jail after police accused her of stealing more than $27,000 from Braden River High School while also lying about her employment to collect government assistance.

Though the case was originally headed to a jury trial, 31-year-old Typhani Butler pleaded no contest to charges of welfare fraud and scheme to defraud — both felonies —on March 27. Judge Gilbert Smith Jr. handed down his sentence on Wednesday afternoon.

“I admit that there is a factual basis for the charges to which I am pleading, and I feel my plea to be in my best interest,” the agreement states.

The court also ordered Butler to pay back more than $20,000 to Braden River High and nearly $6,600 to the Florida Department of Children and Families, according to circuit court documents.

Butler remained at the Manatee County Jail on Friday afternoon, and she previously declined to comment when reached in late November.

Authorities first arrested Butler on June 25 of last year, about four months after the head bookkeeper at Braden River High became suspicious of Butler’s accounting.

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Typhani Butler

Butler, hired as an assistant bookkeeper in 2014, was out sick for a week in February 2018. The supervisor took over and discovered that $2,750 was missing from a school safe, and she noted strange entries in Butler’s records, according to documents from the sheriff’s office and school district.

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

Butler resigned on Feb. 20 of last year, and the district soon called for a criminal investigation and a school audit, which revealed losses of more than $27,000. State attorneys said the fraud took place between August 2017 and February 2018.

Authorities charged Butler a second time on July 11 of last year, citing a report from the state’s Division of Public Assistance Fraud. It said Butler filed several applications for public assistance between October 2014 and December 2015, claiming she had no job when she was actually employed by the school district.

She earned about $22,300 in gross wages between August 2014 to December 2015, along with $4,670 in food stamps from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), and about $1,900 in Medicaid benefits.

Butler said she “was not trying to get over on anything and that she wishes she had been more thorough,” the report states.

On Nov. 28, shortly after the Bradenton Herald reported on the accusations, a video was uploaded to Facebook under the name “Typhani Butler,” and it seemed to address social media comments about the arrests.

“It’s just sad the feathers that I done ruffled today,” she said.

“Exactly what am I doing that’s impacting your life?” she continued. “You need to re-evaluate yourself.”

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