The six-month investigation into the theft of more than $10,000 in cash from Patterson Mill Middle/High School in Bel Air has been closed with no charges filed or prosecution of any suspects planned.
The Harford County State’s Attorney’s office declined to prosecute due to “too many questions surrounding employee accessibility [to the money] and a lack of accountability in the handling of the money,” Harford County Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Monica Worrell said Tuesday.
“There was too much reasonable doubt,” Worrell said.
According to a police report, Harford County Public Schools security chief Bob Benedetto told police on Oct. 20 that a combination of cash and personal checks collected by the school could not be accounted for, and that a felony theft occurred between Dec. 9, 2009 and Sept. 16. Benedetto reported that the missing money came from the cash box money taken at various sports games on various dates, and from a deposit for other school activities.
Benedetto contacted the sheriff’s office after first conducting an internal investigation involving multiple persons at the school, the police report stated. He told police that the school’s vault, where cash boxes are located, had been re-keyed, with the only new key issued to Patterson Mill Principal Wayne Thibeault.
At the time, Harford County Public Schools spokesperson Teri Kranefeld told The Dagger that the school system’s investigation was continuing in concert with law enforcement.
As months passed without an update on the investigation from the Sheriff’s Office or school system, unrest developed among concerned Patterson Mill parents, who questioned the whereabouts of the money, the responsibility of those accountable for the funds, and the response from both agencies.
Check back with The Dagger for further updates to this developing story.