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Two women have been indicted for stealing from an Over-the-Rhine school.
Lisa Hamm and Stephanie Millard are both facing 26 counts of theft in office, tampering with records, tampering with evidence and unauthorized use of property for taking property from the Ohio Department of Education and/or the Cincinnati College Preparatory Academy.
The indictment comes after an investigation by the state auditor's office.
According to the indictment that was filed in Hamilton County, the incidents took place from October 2006 until February of this year. Hamm is accused of taking more than 20 trips with staff and family members, some for training purposes but most for "best practice visits," and spending way over the allotted fund amounts approved by the board. Millard, the school's contracted treasurer, paid each month's credit card bills without the knowledge of board members.
The alleged misspent money totals more than $148,000.
Court documents state that among Hamm's trips was a $20,000, 10-day tour through California which covered expenses such as a rental car with a hired drivers, expensive meals and hotel stays above and beyond what was required for her training in San Diego. On other occasion, Hamm was supposed to make visits to Chicago charter schools but attended a Tina Turner concert instead. Hamm also coordinated a trip to Boston to see Oprah Winfrey and took a sight seeing tour of Europe when the purpose of her trip was to fulfill residency requirements for her doctorate program.
Parents and students of CCPA are stunned with the indictment.
"I love her. She was actually my mentor back when I was in second or third grade," says Lakisha Hope, who has since sent her 5-year-old daughter to CCPA.
According to the school's website, Hamm is the superintendent, founder and developer of the school, which opened in 1999. The school has an enrollment of 700 students in grades K-12.
Defense Attorney Mike Allen seems hopeful in fighting the case. "It's a dispute between the auditor's office and our clients as to what constitutes a legitimate expense for a seminar and again, we expect to prevail in court."