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May 27, 2012

Embezzlement charges filed against ex-BPDS employee

DUNCAN — After months of investigation and tracking the paper trail, Stephens County District Attorney Jason Hicks filed formal charges May 16 against a former Bray-Doyle Public School employee on allegations of embezzlement.

Kimberly Dawn Brown, of Marlow, allegedly began misappropriating funds in March 2008, from a school account, known as the Christmas account, according to an affidavit filed by DA Task Force investigator Justin Scott. She was the encumbrance clerk for the small rural school district, east of Marlow. The story first came to public attention in October 2011, when Bray-Doyle Superintendent David Eads issued a press release about the incident. Brown resigned before that was made public.

According to the affidavit, that first withdrawal of money are Counts 1, 2 and 3 — $1,200, $800 and $1,000 each — and were used as a downpayment on a 2008 red Ford Mustang.

Scott said Friday that the DA’s office has enough evidence to warrant some 200 counts, but he only submitted 23, of which Hicks chose 17.

“At some point, it just becomes redundant,” Scott said.

Among the allegations, he noted, was money used for a vacation home in Florida, to boarding fees at a local veterinarian facility for dogs.

“The 17 counts total probably close to $20,000,” he said, “but the total amount that we’ve uncovered is closer to $281,000.”

Scott said the Christmas account was established so all BDPS employees could contribute to it of their own choosing. At the holiday, they could withdraw their contributions, along with interest earned. The problem arose when Brown, who oversaw the funds and other matters of finances, wrote checks on that particular account. No purchase order was necessary. She would then, Scott said, transfer funds from the general account to cover the Christmas account deficiencies.

“Based on my investigation, she started spending out of the account and transferred from the general account to the Christmas account,” Scott said.

Other felony counts against Brown, according to the affidavit, include transfer of funds into her personal account for car repairs, her son’s tuition at Cameron University, and payment on her husband’s account with Rural Electric Cooperative. Also, it continued, she used funds to pay for personal computer repairs and purchase a new Acer pink notebook computer. Before charges were filed, an audit was also conducted by the school district.

Brown was placed in custody and on Monday, she appeared in district court for arraignment on the 17 charges. She was released on a $10,000 bond. Her next court appearance is set for 9 a.m.  June 27.

According to court records, she is represented by attorney Brian Jones out of Oklahoma City.

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