NANTICOKE – A city woman who police say stole $16,000 from Luzerne County Community College while working there as a secretary was charged Wednesday with related offenses.
Janet M. Griffith, 51, of Center Street, was arraigned by District Judge Donald Whittaker on two felony counts of theft by failure to make required disposition of funds and one misdemeanor count of failure to make required disposition of funds.
Griffith was released on her own recognizance after investigators said they did not object. She was scheduled to appear for a preliminary hearing on Nov. 14.
I am very disappointed that this occurred at our college, said LCCC President Thomas P. Leary. It's always disappointing when someone violates the public trust. I want to extend my appreciation to the law enforcement agencies for their thorough investigation and to the college's auditors and business consultants for their work as well.
After an investigation by Nanticoke police and the Luzerne County District Attorney's Office, investigators said Griffith took about $16,000 while working as a secretary at the school's Public Safety Training Institute.
Court records indicate Griffith is represented by attorney Matthew Kelly of Kingston.
According to a criminal complaint, Nanticoke Detective Capt. William Shultz spoke on Feb. 22 with the college's director of security, Bill Barrett, who said an accounting firm had completed an annual 2011 audit of the Public Safety Training Institute, and that discrepancies were uncovered regarding missing funds.
The PSTI trains police officers, firefighters, paramedics, EMTs and truck drivers in a variety of courses, and opened in 2008.
An accountant reported to the college that the missing money came from student tuition payments that had been made in cash.
Barrett later spoke about the missing with Griffith, who denied responsibility for the missing funds and suggested there may have been mistakes with the financial statements.
Later that day, Griffith contacted Barrett, indicating she was willing to make repayment even though she did not take anything.
On March 9, Luzerne County Detective Lt. Gary Capitano became involved in the investigation and spoke with Leary, who said Griffith was responsible for collecting fees for many courses and for transporting the payments to the finance office every day.
According to the college, Griffith was hired as a custodian in August 2007 and moved into the secretary position in December 2008.
In October 2011, Griffith was moved back to the custodian position before she was placed on unpaid suspension in March 2012.
She was formally terminated from employment on Wednesday. Her annual salary had been $23,585.
College employees informed investigators they were aware of financial difficulties Griffith was having, and that a number of calls were made to Griffith at work from creditors looking to speak with her.
An example of some missing funds, according to the criminal complaint, was a $530 payment from two individuals who paid in cash for a weapons training course. Court papers say there was no record the payments were made and the cash was nowhere to be found.