Steege charged with second-degree theft
WELLMAN — The Mid-Prairie School District reported today that second-degree theft charges have been filed today against former business manager Cindy Steege of North Liberty.
According to a press release from the district, Steege is alleged to have made approximately $8,000 in unauthorized charges on a Mid-Prairie credit card. The use of credit cards for district purchases has been discontinued as of the beginning of July.
“The district takes any suspected case of employee theft extremely seriously,” Mid-Prairie Schools Superintendent Mark Schneider said. “We are cooperating aggressively with law enforcement and the Washington County Attorney’s Office.”
Washington County Attorney Larry Brock had no comment on the case, saying it is an ongoing criminal investigation. Steege’s first appearance was this morning in Washington County Court, and she was released on her own recognizance.
According to the press release, in late June school officials became aware of possible financial irregularities. After conducting an internal investigation, district officials notified the Washington County Sheriff’s Office and the Iowa State Auditor’s Office on June 30. The charges stem from the sheriff’s office’s investigation.
Investigator Chad Ellis said today that the charges stem from many personal charges that were found on the card that were made throughout the county and in other counties. He said that he believes the alleged theft is confined to the card and does not foresee any additional charges.
Schneider said that he welcomes the state auditor’s office’s involvement in the investigation, the release said.
Tami Kusion, deputy state auditor for the performance and investigation division, said today that the office was notified of the situation and is in the process of starting the investigation. She said that she does not know when the investigation will begin, but that Keota School District will also be included.
Steege was hired in 2009 as Mid-Prairie School District’s assistant business manager, being promoted to business manager in 2010. She resigned from the district on June 12 to take a job in Solon. Between July 2010 and July 2013 she also served as the shared business manager with the Keota School District.
“A person is presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law, and we will all have to await the outcome of the legal process,” Schneider said. “Even though it appears the alleged irregularities are confined to credit card use in the Mid-Prairie district, the State Auditor’s assistance will be vital in restoring the community’s faith in the integrity of the Mid-Prairie and Keota financial systems.”