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Ex-staffer at Thomas Jefferson H.S. admits to embezzling

A former financial officer at the prestigious Thomas Jefferson High School in Fairfax County pleaded guilty Thursday to embezzling $279,000 from various school funds to pay for gambling trips to Las Vegas and Atlantic City and to pay her credit card and mortgage debts.

Susan Thanh Litwin, 37, of Woodbridge was a finance technician at the high school beginning in January 2007, and court records showed she began stealing from the school in March 2008. She left the school's employ this March.

The money had been intended for Jefferson's student athletics, classes, clubs and various fund-raising activities, and a statement of facts filed during Litwin's plea said she wrote checks to herself without authorization and made counter withdrawals at banks.

The statement of facts, signed by Litwin, shows she typically wrote checks or withdrew in amounts between $5,500 and $7,000, but on eight occasions stole in chunks of $15,000 or more. The last illicit withdrawal was in January, and Litwin was arrested in March, court records show.

Litwin apparently cooperated with federal agents and told them she had used the money to support her gambling habit and to pay bills. In U.S. District Court in Alexandria, Litwin pleaded guilty to one count of theft from an organization receiving public funds. She faces a maximum of 10 years in prison when she is sentenced on July 30 by U.S. District Court Judge T.S. Ellis III.

The school district said it would seek to have the money repaid through insurance. Jefferson Principal Evan Glazer sent a letter to parents in March saying that he was "deeply saddened that a member of our community has made a poor decision rather than seek help from peers and a professional."

School officials also said they would review their accounting procedures, though Jefferson's accounts were audited annually.

-- Tom Jackman

By Tom Jackman  |  May 6, 2010; 11:58 AM ET
Categories:  Fairfax , Financial Crimes , From the Courthouse , Tom Jackman , Updates  
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