Former Superintendent’s Wife Will Likely Plead Guilty To Theft

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The wife of an ousted schools superintendent in the Florida Keys is expected to plead either no contest or guilty to six felony charges of theft later this week.

Monique Acevedo is accused of having used a credit card issued by the Monroe County School District to purchase a wide variety of items for her personal use, including a chandelier, pink ties, patio furniture, bar stools, dog food and even a “Ride Me Cowboy” costume. The charges were made at over 100 stores.

Monique’s husband, Randy Acevedo, was the director of business services for the school district. He won his first election for schools superintendent in 2004, and had just won his second four-year term when receipts detailing the improper purchases began to surface, and the scandal broke. Randy Acevedo was convicted last year on three felony charges of official misconduct for having covered up the thefts, and was removed from office by Florida Governor Charlie Crist.

A string of investigations into Acevedo’s office by law enforcement, the Monroe County State Attorney’s office and independent auditors revealed a pattern of policy violations, mismanagement, corruption and nepotism. Monique Acevedo, who had previously worked as an office manager for the Adult Education Department, landed the Adult Education Coordinator job despite having only a few college credits under her belt. She also lacked the state certification required by the job description. With a salary of $65,500, Acevedo was put in charge of several education and training centers in the Keys area. She also began her shopping sprees almost immediately.

In March 2009, then-Finance Director Kathy Reichel went to School Board Chairman Andy Griffiths to express concern with Acevedo’s expense reports, which she had already discussed with Randy Acevedo. The next day, Monique Acevedo resigned; a month later, she was charged with two felonies, organized scheme to defraud and grand theft. Two more felony grand theft charges came in August, after Acevedo was found to have pocketed the money from fundraisers held by the Key West High School; the final charges, in October, were made against Acevedo for the credit-card purchases, which totaled over $220,000.

After resigning, Acevedo had her sons take questionable purchases to hiding places, including a storage room behind the Adult Education Department and a house on Big Pine Key. Among the items stashed away were jewelry, SCUBA equipment, Christmas decorations, a power washer, power tools, two bicycles and a weed eater.

State Attorney Dennis Ward has asked Circuit Judge Mark H. Jones to hand down a prison sentence of 10 years, followed by a 20-year probation period, as well as restitution of the total $413,000 that Acevedo is alleged to have stolen from the district.

 

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