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Lake Ridge Schools official charged with theft

Lake Ridge Schools business manager James Huddleston. | Sun-Times Medifile photo

Lake Ridge Schools business manager James Huddleston. | Sun-Times Media file photo

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Updated: April 22, 2014 6:37AM



The former business manager for Lake Ridge Schools has been indicted for allegedly stealing $134,054 from the school district during the same period that it had to close an elementary school because of a $1.7 million budget shortfall.

James Huddleston, 41, of DeMotte, was arrested Thursday on charges of theft and income tax evasion for embezzling the money from January 2012 until he resigned in April 2013, according to the federal indictment.

It says Huddleston placed the funds in a bank account that he created in the district’s name without anyone’s knowledge and did not include the money on his income tax return for 2012.

Although school district officials a year ago said Huddleston resigned because of personal financial reasons, they also indicated they would review the district’s finances.

About a month later, an audit showed that more than $150,000, mostly refunds from the district’s self-insurance fund, was moved into the bank account and that $134,054 of that money was withdrawn.

A later audit by the Indiana State Board of Accounts reported that Huddleston created the account in September 2011 and used the money to pay various personal bills. The state board also said there was no insurance coverage for the school district’s loss.

Discovery of the alleged theft scheme came shortly after Lake Ridge Schools decided to close Grissom Elementary School, citing a $1.7 million budget deficit.



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