Cops: Teacher Blew Student Activity Cash on Penny Slots

Michigan's Lydia Johnson accused of lifting $31K from dance, trip funds
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 22, 2017 10:45 AM CDT

(Newser) – Last year, Lydia Johnson is said to have blown $90,000 at the MGM Grand Detroit casino, which would be a lot of your own money to lose, let alone someone else's. And a chunk of it was allegedly someone else's. Macomb County authorities say the 29-year-old Dakota High School teacher handled cash as the student activity coordinator. Based on 2016 homecoming dance attendance records, school officials and authorities say $30,000 or so should have come in, yet the the Detroit Free Press reports Johnson only deposited $11,000 into the school's homecoming account. Prosecutor Eric Smith said in a release that empty envelopes believed to have held homecoming cash were found in her classroom, with casino receipts nearby. Meanwhile, Johnson deposited just $500 for a student-parent trip to Tamarack Camps that should have brought in about $13,000.

School officials uncovered things were amiss after Tamarack Camps started trying to collect money it was owed; the school then contacted the sheriff's office. Per WJBK, MGM Grand Detroit records indicated Johnson spent more than $90,000 on penny slots during 2016. Smith says when her personal bank account was examined, it showed deposits that would have been far and above what she made as a math and Spanish teacher at the school. Johnson was placed on administrative leave in early May, with the grand total she's accused of stealing running close to $32,000, the Detroit News reports. She now faces a felony charge of embezzlement from a nonprofit, which could earn her 10 years in prison if she's convicted. (Read more weird crimes stories.)

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