Witnesses Describe Alleged Financial Irregularities in Ex-Principal Michael Greening's Prelim
The judge adjourned the preliminary examination for one week after hearing testimony from almost a dozen witnesses of alleged financial irregularities at Royal Oak High School during the time Michael Greening was principal.
A teacher, a club sponsor, a parent, and a coach were among the witnesses Monday morning that described alleged financial irregularities at Royal Oak High School during the time former principal Michael Greening was the building's top administrator.
After hearing more than three hours of testimony during a preliminary examination in 44th District Court, Judge Daniel Sawicki adjourned the hearing until 9 a.m. Aug. 13. The ex-principal is charged with two counts of felony embezzlement, each carrying a maximum five-year penalty and/or fines.
Greening, who resigned from all employment with the school district effective June 30, is alleged to have taken between $2,000 and up to $40,000 from the school's student activities funds.
The student activities fund includes money from variety of events, clubs and groups such as athletic boosters, drama club, robotics, prom and the Spirit Club.
Former Athletic Director Brian Gordon testified that on or around Dec. 13, he delivered a cash deposit to the main office for $1,243.73, the majority of which was cash, to Greening's secretary Lynne Staszak. Gordon said when he got a receipt for the deposit "it was a different amount."
Gordon testified the receipt showed a deposit of only $240.73.
After noticing the deposit was short $1,000, Gordon said he had a conversation with Pam Moore, the school's athletic coordinator and later he approached Greening.
"I told him that number was incorrect, and I needed that corrected," Gordon said. Greening told the former AD he would "make it right," Gordon testified.
Moore testified Gordon was upset and that she noticed a transfer of $1,000 was made from the student activity fund to the athletic boosters' account and wondered why.
"There should not be money transferred from that account," she said. "It's a fundraising account."
Staszak would testify she recalled Gordon bringing in a large stack of cash, indicating with her hands that it was "2 and a half inches thick."
"It was a wad of cash and checks," she said.
The secretary would normally re-count the money but did not have time on that day so she put the money into a locked safe that only Greening and she had the combination and keys for, she testified. When she went to count the money, she said the stack was much smaller - approximately one-half to three-quarters of an inch thick, she said.
"It was significant," Staszak testified. "I called Mr. Gordon and told him 'there is a lot less money than what you gave me.'"
Gordon and Moore came down to the main office, Staszak said. The secretary testified she told Greening the pair were very angry and upset and that Greening talked to Gordon in his office with the door closed.
Throughout the morning various witnesses, from a parent treasurer of the high school's robotics team to the sponsor of the school's dance company described alleged financial irregularities and bookkeeping procedures the school had in place that were sometimes ignored, such as not dating or signing deposit slips and simply leaving money in an envelope on a secretary's desk if she was not present to receive it.
David Potter, the former head football coach, testified he did not realize money collected from a Gold Card fundraiser - Gold Cards are discount cards to area businesses players sold for $20 each - was not all deposited until he was questioned by Detective Keith Spencer of the Royal Oak Police Department.
Potter said he never compared team records to the school's records or checked his receipts.
"I trusted the receipt I got back was what I turned in," he said.
Superintendent Shawn Lewis-Lakin had this statement in response to today's testimony:
The financial irregularities and sloppy bookkeeping described in the testimony today occurred within the high school student activities funds, which are the direct responsibility of the high school principal.
We became aware of irregularities in the student activity accounts on December 16, 2011. When school resumed in January, the district instituted revised money handling procedures for the student activity accounts. These procedures are designed to prevent any recurrence of that which has been described in court. The new procedures were developed with guidance from our auditors and are being stringently monitored.The sloppiness and lack of adherence to money handling procedures described in testimony today has not been and is not acceptable. We have no evidence to suggest that such behavior has occurred in accounts other than the high student activity accounts.
Greening is back in court 9 a.m. Aug. 13 in front of Judge Sawicki in 44th District Court for the continuation of the preliminary examination. Greening remains on $50,000 personal recognizance with conditions, including that he not leave the state.
Correction: The school district became aware of irregularities in the student activity accounts on December 16, 2011.