Mich. Teacher Allegedly Steals Homecoming Money and Gambles It Away: 'Feeding Student Funds Into a Slot Machine'

A Michigan high school teacher is accused of stealing money from her school’s student activity fund and gambling it away at a casino, according to a statement by the Macomb County prosecutor.

Lydia Johnson, 29, was charged with one count of embezzlement from a non-profit organization. She faces a maximum sentence of 10 years.

Johnson was Dakota High School’s student activity coordinator and was responsible for funds related to school events. Based on attendance for the 2016 Homecoming dance, the fund should have taken in nearly $30,000, but Johnson deposited $11,000 into the account, according to the prosecutor.

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When officials searched Johnson’s classroom, they discovered several casino receipts, according to the statement. Officials went through MGM Grand Detroit casino records and discovered Johnson allegedly spent more than $90,000 at the penny slot machines in 2016.

“This teacher held a position of trust within the high school,” said Macomb County Prosecutor Eric Smith in a statement obtained by PEOPLE. “She repaid that trust by feeding student funds into a slot machine.”

Johnson was also responsible for a student-and-parent trip to Camp Tamarack in 2016. Johnson should have collected and deposited nearly $13,000 in fees, but allegedly only deposited $500, the statement says.

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Camp Tamarack repeatedly attempted to collect its money but was unsuccessful, so it contacted school officials, according to the statement. After an internal investigation, school officials contacted the Macomb County Sheriff’s Department.

“Many of these students will now remember their Senior Homecoming for all the wrong reasons,” said Sheriff Anthony Wickersham in the statement.

Johnson was arraigned and pleaded not guilty, court officials tell PEOPLE. She was released on $10,000 bail. Attempts to reach her attorney were unsuccessful. Her next court appearance is scheduled for Oct. 5.

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