By: Benjamin J. Gohs, News Editor
Originally charged with five counts of embezzlement and two counts of perjury for allegedly stealing what authorities initially thought was close to $100,000 from St. Mary Catholic School in Charlevoix, its former Principal (2006 – 2009) Keisha Kay Veryser is expected to plead guilty to two charges of embezzlement.
According to Charlevoix Prosecuting Attorney John Jarema, the tentative agreement, reached on Jan. 25, would call for Veryser to repay at least $75,000 of the money she is thought to have taken from her former employer in at least 45 incidences over an approximately three-and-a-half year period beginning in September 2006.
“She is expected to bring in, as part of this deal, $37,500 of the restitution up front,” Jarema said.
According to Jarema, due to changes in the way embezzlement is charged, he could not ask for any prison time for Veryser even though the penalty for embezzling between $1,000 and $20,000 carries penalties of up to five years in prison and/or a $10,000 fine.
Officials say funds were used for everything from a loan for a cosmetic procedure, children’s ski academy, personal credit card, student loans, and other purchases.
According to Jarema, the school was tipped off to the alleged embezzlement when a “suspicious” check was written on a school account for a personal matter.
“The school began looking at the School’s books and accounts and found what appeared to be payments to Keisha Veryser’s personal credit card from school funds,” stated Michigan State Police Det. Sgt. Jerry Briolat stated in his affidavit of probable cause. “My investigation revealed that Keisha Veryser was a signer on numerous accounts including the miscellaneous account, Northern Lights Account, Scholarship Account and on the school’s CD accounts … (and) Veryser had possession of the school’s First Bank Card and the statement was apparently sent to her home address.”
According to police, the alleged embezzlement began in 2006 with $100 on Sept. 15, when Veryser allegedly took three checks totaling $300 to a Charlevoix bank, but only deposited $200 into the school’s miscellaneous account.
Numerous alleged incidences of embezzlement occurred during each year of Veryser’s employment with the last alleged offense involving the withdrawal of $3,500 from the school’s miscellaneous account on Jan. 13 2010. Officials say Veryser turned the money into an official cashier’s check and sent it to pay Veryser’s personal Visa credit card bill.
The perjury charges Veryser had faced, but will likely be dropped, stemmed from a civil suit filed against Veryser by the Gaylord Catholic Diocese which is suing Veryser for the money they allege she took.
Jarema said he would make a formal statement following the plea hearing which has been set for March 9 in Charlevoix Circuit Court.
Veryser’s attorney F. Randall Karfonta could not be reached by press time.
Look for an update on this story in the Feb. 15, edition of the Boyne City Gazette.