A 38-year-old Burbank woman is at the center of an alleged embezzlement case at the Burbank Unified School District office. The suspected theft involves at least $10,000 missing from fees collected for the “Around the Bell” afterschool program.
“BUSD will bring in a forensic auditor later this month to confirm the full extent of the loss. The district will work with its insurance company and the alleged perpetrator to recover the stolen money,” Superintendent John Paramo said in an email statement.
The district’s investigation began last month when staff detected suspicious activity surrounding the cash collected from parent fees for the afterschool programs. When confronted, a clerical employee, Penelope Cuevas, reportedly “confessed to the crime and resigned”as an afterschool childcare coordinator.
On October 30, Burbank Police were called in and conducted its investigation. Shortly after that, Cuevas was arrested and then released with a citation, according to Public Information Officer Sergeant Stephen Turner. She is due to appear in court on January 4, 2024.
The theft was restricted to the collection of fees in the Around the Bell afterschool program and did not impact any other district programs. Also, the district did an internal review and identified the areas of improvement for cash receipting and depositing funds in the afterschool programs. Paramo expressed regret over the matter: “We are deeply saddened and outraged by this breach of trust, and we apologize to our staff, parents and the community for this unfortunate situation. We are committed to ensuring the integrity and accountability of our district.”