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Official at prestigious T. Jefferson HS charged with stealing school money

A finance official at one of the Washington area's most prestigious high schools was arrested on Friday and charged with stealing $279,000 from student athletics and clubs and using the money to support a gambling habit, prosecutors said.

Susan Thanh Litwin, a finance technician at Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology in Fairfax County, is charged in U.S. District Court in Alexandria with theft from a program that receives federal funds. She is scheduled to appear in court Friday afternoon.

Court records said Litwin was responsible for receiving and depositing funds, from parents and other sources, to support athletics, classes, clubs and other school activities.

Prosecutors said Litwin, 37, of Woodbridge, used her signature authority to write checks to herself and also to deposit funds into school accounts and withdraw the money. The checks and withdrawals ranged from $2,500 to $35,000, prosecutors said.

Thomas Jefferson is considered among the nation’s best public high schools and has the highest average SAT score for any public high school in America, according to rankings complied for Newsweek magazine.

In an interview with federal agents, Litwin said the money she is accused of stealing was used for trips to Las Vegas and Atlantic City to support her gambling habit and to help with her high credit card debt and large mortgage payments on her home.

“These are difficult financial times for many public institutions, and an employee who breaks that trust needs to be held accountable,” said Neil H. MacBride, the U.S. attorney in Alexandria, who recently announced a crackdown on public corruption and financial crimes.

--Jerry Markon

By Washington Post editors  |  March 5, 2010; 1:09 PM ET
Categories:  Fairfax , From the Courthouse , Jerry Markon  
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I wonder if she place a bet on herself, not being CAUGHT!!

Posted by: curtis1112 | March 5, 2010 1:53 PM | Report abuse

these are hard times

Posted by: steampunk | March 5, 2010 2:15 PM | Report abuse

How do these people live with themselves KNOWING they are STEALING FROM STUDENTS!

and please spare me the "Psychological/Mental Disabilities/Gambling is a Disease" BS!

I hope this "person" receives the harshest punishment possible.

Posted by: TwoSons | March 5, 2010 2:18 PM | Report abuse

You really have to wonder how these folks convince themselves they aren't going to be caught? I mean geez...its a public school for gods sakes. It goes through multilayers of audits every year, from the local, to state to federal level, and you think you won't get caught pilfering 300K from the "clubs" fund? You may get away with it for a couple years, but you are always going to get caught in a situation like this. Robbing a bank is almost a better idea.

Posted by: Nosh1 | March 5, 2010 2:38 PM | Report abuse

Eh, those parents are mostly rich and their students will get high-paying jobs. It was wrong but not much harm done.

Posted by: BaracksTeleprompter | March 5, 2010 4:10 PM | Report abuse

Harsh times,credit debt and gambling DO NOT change the character of a person.If she was in no debt and did not gamble I think she would steal the monet anyway because she could. If you know stealing is wrong then you know you will get caught.Thats the one thing missing in America's admin.INTEGRITY and CORE VALUES TO OTHERS.

Posted by: captgrumpy | March 5, 2010 5:37 PM | Report abuse

As a parent for a TJ student, I am saddened and angry by the theft of students funds by one individual, as well as the senseless comment from a previous reader "those parents are mostly rich..." I just cannot believe there are always lunatics that do bad things and idiots who cheer them on.

For one, I can tell you that my student participated in many fund raising events throughout the years. On a good day of car washing event, they make a gross about $500 (does not include supplies), average even less. This is a total receipt for about a couple of dozen students. Let's say its $400 net a day of effort.
The amount that was stolen ($279,000)equates about 700 days of continueous daily car washing (about two years, with no off-days), for a group of 20 students!

What the society has come to? People, think before you speak. If you can help, please do so; if not, at least you should have the decency not to jeers on the side.

Posted by: ls2003yh | March 5, 2010 5:59 PM | Report abuse

A few years ago a PTA official embezzled funds. Since that debacle I assumed all entities that receive funds for the students benefit had improved controls.

Posted by: mydchome | March 5, 2010 6:42 PM | Report abuse

Obama says it's really the fault of the previous administration.

Posted by: msg8568 | March 5, 2010 10:39 PM | Report abuse

When a MoCo Public Schools audit found that student funds had been misused at Richard Montgomery HS, what happened?

They used student money to pay for a staff "Retreat" at the Chesapeake Hyatt resort! What's the point of an audit if the student funds are never recovered???

Posted by: ontarget1 | March 6, 2010 1:30 PM | Report abuse

Eh, those parents are mostly rich and their students will get high-paying jobs. It was wrong but not much harm done.

Are you kidding me? As a former coach of TJ students I can assure you that in-fact most TJ parents are not rich. Many TJ parents are actually not well off at all. Fundraising was a must when I coached at TJ to have extra cash to cover the cost of items that many of my students could not offered. Lets remember TJ is a PUBLIC HIGH SCHOOL. parents do not pay tuition for their child to attend. If a kid is talented enough to get accepted (and last time i checked kids who come from middle class and poor backgrounds can be talented) then you get in.

Lets put the focus where it belongs, on this selfish individual who put the needs of herself before 2000 students. Even if the students came from rich families which many of them do not, then its still wrong.

Posted by: markb_2 | March 7, 2010 7:53 AM | Report abuse

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