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Phoenix school district employees indicted for fraud, forgery charges

Two former accounting employees of the Wilson Elementary School District have been indicted for allegedly embezzling funds from the district.

PHOENIX — Two former employees of the Wilson Elementary School District have been indicted by a grand jury for fraud and forgery charges. 

The Arizona Attorney General's Office says Ryan Mariano and April Childs each allegedly deposited unauthorized district checks into their personal bank accounts between 2018 and 2020.

Mariano is suspected of stealing more than $25,000 and Childs allegedly deposited at least $4,000 of the district's funds. Both of the suspects had worked as accounting specialists for the small Phoenix school district.

Wilson has an annual budget of about $14 million to educate approximately 1,000 students. 

Mariano allegedly issued himself at least 15 checks and attempted to cover his tracks by falsifying the district's accounting records.

The school district terminated Mariano in early 2019 and then terminated Childs in December 2019, according to the Arizona Auditor General.

Auditors faulted the district for not setting up better accounting controls after discovering Mariano's alleged fraud.  

"Although officials took prompt action after discovering Mr. Mariano’s alleged financial misconduct, their actions were not enough to prevent Ms. Childs from later perpetrating similar alleged misconduct," auditors wrote in a report.

District officials have since reported making improvements to its internal controls to better monitor the district's financial accounts, public records show. 

Mariano and Childs are scheduled to be arraigned in court Tuesday. Both are facing felony charges of fraud, theft, and forgery.

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