Former school agency chief faces federal charge over questionable expenses
A former education executive is scheduled to plead guilty on July 30 to a federal charge of using an agency credit card to steal from a federally funded program.
Cecelia Yauger, 56, of Grove City resigned as the executive director of the Midwestern Intermediate Unit IV in April 2013 when a citizen's Right to Know request exposed about $73,000 in questionable purchases between 2007 and 2013 that included restaurant meals, DVD rentals and department store purchases.
She was facing state charges from the resulting investigation. Federal prosecutors on Monday added the federal charge based on her purchases in 2012.
Yauger's attorney, Eugene Tempesta, could not be reached for comment. He has said that he believed they could show that a substantial portion of the $73,000 in purchases were work-related.
The U.S. Attorney's Office declined comment.
Wade Killmeyer, the intermediate unit's executive director, said he was not surprised by the federal charge, because Yauger has been under investigation since last year. Midwestern, a Grove City-based educational services provider to 27 school districts in Butler, Lawrence and Mercer counties, has since changed the policy that allowed an executive director to approve her own expenses, he said.
“It's our goal that nothing like this will happen, or if it does, it will be easier for it to come to light,” Killmeyer said.
Timothy McNickle, the agency's solicitor, couldn't be reached for comment.
Police and intermediate unit officials have not identified the person whose query started the investigation. Killmeyer said he doesn't know who submitted the state Right to Know Law request.
The request caused agency staff to compile records, among which they noticed Yauger's use of the credit card.
A special audit commissioned by the agency's board raised questions about $73,000 of the $114,000 in purchases she made between 2007 and 2013 with an agency American Express card.
When the intermediate unit's board in 2013 asked Yauger to document the purchases, she provided fewer than two dozen receipts.
The purchases include Verizon charges, hotel rooms, restaurant meals and items from pharmacies, department stores and retail outlets, according to records.
She made nearly $37,500 of the purchases on weekends, records show.
Grove City police in September charged her with theft and unauthorized access device use. Those charges are pending.
Brian Bowling is a Trib Total Media staff writer. Reach him at 412-325-4301 or firstname.lastname@example.org.