Inland Empire News

Rialto school accountant charged with embezzlement

Wednesday, October 09, 2013

A 48-year-old woman, accused of stuffing lunch money in her bra and embezzling nearly $2 million from the Rialto Unified School District, was in court Wednesday.

Judith Oakes was arrested on Aug. 7 after she was caught on video stuffing school lunch money into her bra.

The former Rialto Unified School District accountant is charged with eight counts of embezzlement by public or private officer and eight counts of public officer crime in connection with the suspected embezzlement of $1.8 million over the past eight years.

The suspect handled deposits of student lunch money into a district bank account. Her arrest followed an investigation into missing funds.

She was arrested and booked into West Valley Detention Center in Rancho Cucamonga but later released on $50,000 bail.

Oakes appeared at her arraignment and bail increase hearing with her family by her side Wednesday. She pleaded not guilty to all charges and denied all special allegations.

Defense attorney Pat Milligan asked the court that his client's bail be reduced from the $1.8 million the DA's office had set. He argued his client had strong community ties and was not a flight risk. A judge, however, denied the request saying while Oakes did not appear to be a flight risk, the seriousness of the crime warranted the bail amount.

"The family was crushed that we did not get a bail that would allow them to post their bail on their child and mother without breaking the bank of all of these people," said Milligan.

Oakes was taken back into custody by bailiffs in the court. She is due back in court on Nov. 21.

If convicted of all charges, Oakes faces up to 11 years in state prison.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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