A longtime Temecula Valley High bookkeeper faces up to one year in jail after admitting that she stole what authorities say was hundreds of thousands of dollars from students.
Virginia Ellen Schaul, 66, of Murrieta, pleaded guilty on Tuesday, Aug. 4, to seven felonies: embezzlement by a public officer, forgery, and five counts of money laundering, Riverside County Superior Court records show.
She was accused of stealing $330,000.
Schaul is scheduled to be sentenced Oct. 8 at the Southwest Justice Center in French Valley. The terms of her plea say the maximum sentence is 365 days, said her attorney, Nicolai Cocis.
The Riverside County Sheriff’s Department investigation began in September 2016. Schaul was fired in 2017 and charged in May 2019.
A Temecula Valley Unified School District employee became suspicious when noticing that the Associated Student Body account at Temecula Valley High contained about $30,000, while the accounts at the two other district high schools each had about $150,000, according to a declaration written to obtain an arrest warrant.
Those accounts are used to pay for equipment, uniforms, entry fees, travel fees and other expenses for clubs and teams.
Additionally, it was discovered that some clubs’ bills had not been paid and that there were cash withdrawals and bank deposits considered questionable. The district performed an audit for the 2015-16 school year and discovered that 61 of the clubs were overdrawn.
Schaul, the school’s bookkeeper for 28 years, was the only person responsible for maintaining the books, the declaration said.
The district said it has since revised its bookkeeping procedures but has declined to discuss them until Schaul’s case has concluded.
The district’s insurance company has reimbursed the district, Cocis said. Also, Schaul reimbursed the insurance company after it sued her. The amount of the settlement is confidential, Cocis said.
Schaul had filed for bankruptcy in 2010. She had a gambling addiction, her lawyer said.
“She’s terribly sorry for her behavior,” he said. “There are a lot of underlying factors that explain her behavior, not excuse her behavior.”