INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (WTWO/WAWV) — According to a release from the Department of Justice, a former bookkeeper for the Anderson Community School Corporation has been sentenced to two years in prison for fraud.

Working as the Anderson Community School Corporation Food Service Department’s Bookkeeper since 2007, Clara Burke, 63, of Anderson Indiana pleaded guilty to wire fraud and falsifying tax documents. 

Burke’s employment duties required the maintenance of financial records, bank accounts, and vendor invoices for the Food Service Department. Burke also generated checks in the name of the department for payments to vendors as a part of her job description. 

Starting on Jan 1 of 2014 and through to June 30 of 2019, Burke had issued checks to herself in the name of ACSC Food Service, with herself as the payee. Burke then falsified the records, listing the payee as a vendor and not herself. Burke then cashed the checks at her personal bank and used the money for her personal use including gambling. 

In an attempt to hide the committed fraud, Burke not only failed to report around $225,381 in income she got from the checks on five years of tax returns but also lied to federal agents about her behavior and actions.

Burke’s crimes were discovered during a scheduled and routine audit by the Indiana State Board of Accounts (SBOA). SBOA carried out a disbursement of funds test and found the missing documentation. It was found that in total, Burke had approved nearly 312 fraudulent checks that resulted in a loss of funds totaling 976,773.29 for ACSC.

“The defendant stole nearly a million dollars intended to put food in the mouths of children to satisfy her own greed,” Zachary A. Myers, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Indiana said. “Public employment is a public trust, and the sentence imposed today shows that those who violate that trust will be held accountable. I commend the SBOA for their diligence and partnership with our office as we combat waste, fraud, and abuse on behalf of all Hoosiers.”

Burke was sentenced to an additional 3 years of probation following the 28 months of prison and was ordered to pay $141,190 to the Internal Revenue Service and $976,772.39 in restitution to Anderson Community School Corporation.