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Former head of school intermediate unit charged with theft, fraud

| Friday, Sept. 13, 2013, 9:03 p.m.

Police charged the former head of Midwestern Intermediate Unit IV on Friday with theft and access device fraud, accusing her of using a company credit card for personal expenses over several years.

Cecelia Yauger, 55, of Grove City waived a preliminary hearing when Grove City police charged her with one count each of theft and unauthorized access device use, both felony charges. She remains free on $10,000 unsecured bond. A formal arraignment is scheduled for Nov. 12 in Mercer County Court.

Yauger's attorney, Eugene Tempesta, said she would not make any comment on the charges. He said a criminal complaint filed by Grove City police Cpl. Matthew Ran accused her of theft in an amount “in excess of $2,000.”

“I believe the expenses were work-related, and I believe we can show that a substantial portion were work-related,” Tempesta said. “There may be a (minimal) amount that cannot be shown as ‘work-related,' or for that matter, nonwork-related, because time has passed and the evidence one way or the other is simply not available.”

Grove City police could not be reached for additional information. Timothy McNickle, the intermediate unit's solicitor, also could not be reached.

Yauger resigned as head of the intermediate unit on April 24, nearly a month after the board placed her on administrative leave when questions surfaced about her expense reimbursements. A Pittsburgh attorney had filed a Right-to-Know request March 4 on behalf of a client seeking records about the use of credit cards by employees of the unit, which serves schools in Butler, Mercer and Lawrence counties. Unit officials said that when they started pulling together those documents, they noticed questionable expenses on Yauger's credit card.

Board policy allowed Yauger to approve her own expenses. Intermediate unit board members said she did little to document them, supplying fewer than two dozen receipts for thousands of dollars in purchases. The board has since changed that policy and others to tighten financial oversight.

The audit labeled as “undocumented/questionable” nearly $73,000 of about $114,000 in bills that Yauger charged to one of the unit's American Express cards from August 2007 through April 30. It classified the remaining $41,000 as business-related expenses.

The board approved Yauger's retirement on April 24, the day she resigned, allowing her to apply unused vacation and sick days at a rate of $100 per day toward any money she may owe the intermediate unit. The unit said she accumulated 224 sick days and six unused vacation days. Yauger acknowledged in her resignation that she could owe the intermediate unit money.

Yauger is not employed but is “exploring options to help the community,” Tempesta said, including wanting to teach nonprofit organizations how to write grant proposals.

In August, the intermediate unit board appointed Clairton City School District Superintendent Wayde Killmeyer to head the unit.

Bill Vidonic is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-380-5621 or bvidonic@tribweb.com.

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