School district bookkeeper cited for embezzlement

<b>By KATHRYN FLAGG</b>BRISTOL — Vermont State Police on Thursday wrapped up a months-long investigation of alleged embezzlement at the Addison Northeast Supervisory Union, citing into court Amy Cousino, 39, of Bristol to answer charges of embezzling more than $40,000.Cousino, who worked as a bookkeeper at the supervisory union from September 2004 to February 2009, will be arraigned in Addison District Court on July 13. State police said Cousino made more than $19,000 in personal purchases and payments using ANeSU credit cards. VSP detectives also say Cousino took more than $22,000 in cash from lunch money, which she did not deposit for the district, between May 2008 and February 2009.VSP Detective Trooper Julie Scribner, who has been investigating the alleged embezzlement since February, said the investigation began after ANeSU Superintendent Evelyn Howard reported she suspected an employee was embezzling funds. Cousino was placed on administrative leave on Feb. 23, and later that month she resigned from her position as bookkeeper. During the investigation, Scribner and the state troopers executed three search warrants and applied for numerous inquest subpoenas for records from payees.Investigation showed that Cousino had used the supervisory union’s credit cards to make personal bill payments, purchase clothing and hockey tickets, and pay for a vacation, among other charges, Scribner said. Cousino allegedly first used the credit card in February 2008, and then waited several months before making more charges and allegedly taking cash from school lunch payments that she should have deposited into supervisory union accounts. Cousino’s direct supervisor at the supervisory union was Business Manager Greg Burdick, who was on vacation last week and unavailable for comment.Howard said that up until February, the supervisory union officials had “no reason to believe that there was any misuse of money,” but went to the VSP when the alleged embezzlement finally came to their attention. Dick Merrill, who represents Bristol on the Mt. Abraham Union High School board, told the Addison Independent in May that he’d been concerned about potential embezzlement in the district for several months.Merrill contacted the state auditor’s office last August to request that the auditor investigate the school district. Merrill, who won his seat on the school board this past March as a write-in candidate, said that his suspicions were piqued after he repeatedly requested a copy of the school district’s audit — which should be available to the public — and did not receive the document. Scribner said in a press release that all ANeSU staff who were contacted were cooperative during the investigation, and that no other employees at the supervisory union were implicated in the alleged incident.

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Addison County Independent

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