The bookkeeper for Madras High School is under criminal investigation for allegedly embezzling student funds.

Misty Foster, 44, is on administrative leave from the Jefferson County School District while the Oregon Department of Justice looks into claims she stole thousands of dollars intended for school programs, according to court records in Jefferson County Circuit Court. She has yet to be charged with a crime.

The investigation into Foster began with observations by Martha Bewley, the Jefferson County School District’s chief financial officer.

Bewley reported inconsistencies she noticed with Foster’s accounting to the Madras Police Department, which passed the investigation on to the DOJ due to a conflict of interest, according to a court record filed last month by DOJ special agent Matt Hingston.

Hingston’s request for a warrant to search Foster’s office does not describe the nature of the conflict of interest.

Foster is called in court records a “long-time” employee of the district. As bookkeeper for the high school, she’s responsible for student body funds, including gate receipts from sports games and proceeds from fundraisers.

Bewley told agent Hingston that Foster has had “issues” adhering to the district’s accounting principles.

“She told me in the last fiscal year they have conducted three audits on Misty Foster’s books and all three times she has been found out of compliance with their policies and procedures,” Hingston wrote.

Bewley became suspicious when she noticed discrepancies in the amount of money she thought was taken in during a student fundraiser versus the amount of money shown in Foster’s books.

Bewley reached out to Brenda Bartlett, partner at SGA, a Bend accounting firm contracted by the school district for services. Bartlett’s team conducted an audit of Foster’s books, specifically nine bank deposits from Madras High School between April 3 and May 14, according to court records.

“Our initial conclusion is that the bookkeeper Misty Foster embezzled funds from the school using a common “check for cash substitution” scheme,” Bartlett wrote.

Barlett concluded that the missing cash from the nine receipts totals $2,305. That amount included funds raised through a JROTC meat stick fundraiser, National Honor Society chocolate bar sale, track meet concessions and student store sales.

In early June, Foster was told she was being placed on leave, and she reportedly left the building crying. A district human resources employee searched Foster’s office and allegedly found in her recycling bin copies of receipts she would not usually need to keep, according to court documents.

— Reporter: 541-383-0325, gandrews@bendbulletin.com

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