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Tolleson Union High School District—Theft and Misuse of Public Monies


As part of its responsibility to prevent and detect fraud, the Tolleson Union High School District (District) administrators took appropriate action by reporting a fraud allegation to our Office. Consequently, we conducted an investigation revealing that from July 2007 to June 2011, Brenda Busse, former bookstore manager at Tolleson Union High School (TUHS), may have violated state laws related to theft, misuse of public monies, and fraudulent schemes when she embezzled $120,708 of TUHS bookstore receipts. Specifically, Ms. Busse took customer cash payments made at the TUHS bookstore that should have benefited the students and manipulated computer data in the District’s receipt-processing system 374 times to help conceal her actions. Although records are not available to specifically show how the embezzled money was spent, nearly $18,000 cash was deposited into Ms. Busse’s bank account from August 2009 through her last day of employment, July 13, 2011. This cash was commingled with other personal monies and then used mostly for cash withdrawals, including withdrawals at casinos, as well as for retail, living, and other personal expenses. In addition, Ms. Busse gambled $73,474 of cash at a local casino during this same time period.

Ms. Busse embezzled and misused public monies by both abusing her authority as the TUHS bookstore manager and by taking advantage of inadequate controls over collecting and depositing district monies. Additionally, former TUHS and district officials failed to exercise an appropriate level of oversight over Ms. Busse’s activities.

On December 14, 2015, the Arizona Attorney General’s Office presented evidence of Ms. Busse’s alleged crimes to the State Grand Jury, resulting in her indictment on three felony counts.