PAULS VALLEY — Former Pauls Valley schools superintendent Bobby Don Russell has been charged in Garvin County District Court with embezzling more than $44,000 from the school district, according to court papers.
Russell, 60, was arrested today by Pauls Valley police in a traffic stop at State Highway 19 and North Street after the charges were filed, Police Chief Mitch McGill said. He was arrested without incident.
Russell was being booked into the Garvin County jail this afternoon with bail set at $20,000, a sheriff's spokesman said.
Prosecutors have charged Russell with four counts of embezzlement and six counts of obtaining money by false pretense, court records show.
Authorities allege he used two checks of $11,500 each from the district for his own purposes, one on Dec. 21, 2009, and the other on May 21, 2010, according to court papers. Prosecutors also accuse him of using a $2,392 check to the district from Elmore City-Pernell schools for his own use on Jan. 19, 2010, and of doing the same with another $3,062 check from that district on July 12.
Russell is also accused of getting a $2,951 check on June 24, 2009 and another check of the same amount on July 9, 2009, for his wife, Debby Russell, as pay for summer school classes she didn't teach, court records show.
Prosecutors accuse Bobby Russell of getting four checks from falsified reimbursement claims, according to court papers. A check for $2,550 on Feb. 13, 2009, was for a payment he supposedly made to a nonexistent educational software company. Two checks on March 19, 2009, one for $3,200 and one for $2,162, were for payments he said he made to another school district and for materials purchased for the district. An Oct. 30, 2009, a check for $2,100 was for a payment he said he made to an audio equipment company.
The checks described in the charges add up to $44,370. Pauls Valley police allege in a probable cause affidavit filed with the charges that Russell embezzled more than $80,000, but the rest of the money they accuse him of stealing is not accounted for in the court filings.
McGill said he didn't know what Russell did with the money.
“The Pauls Valley School Board and the district employees have cooperated and will continue to cooperate with law enforcement authorities regarding the misuse of school funds,” current Pauls Valley superintendent Darsha Huckabaa said in a statement. “We thank the law enforcement authorities for their hard work, and we will work with them to make sure that justice is served, including obtaining restitution for all losses suffered by the school. Because the prosecution is ongoing, no one associated with the school will have any further comment at this time.”
Russell resigned as superintendent in August, a district spokeswoman said. Russell's total compensation including benefits for the 2009-2010 school year was $131,846, according to records from the state Education Department.
Contributing: Staff Writer Megan Rolland