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Former Norman County East bookkeeper faces embezzlement charges

A former Norman County East School District bookkeeper faces felony charges for allegedly taking more than $118,000 in district money over roughly two years.

Marcella Bentley, a 30-year veteran of the district who resigned last spring, was charged with one count of theft, one count of embezzlement of public funds and two check forgery counts. The embezzlement charge alone carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison or $20,000 in fines.

According to the court complaint:

District Superintendent Dean Krogstad, contacted the Twin Valley Police Department last spring. He had received a call from the district's bank stating that Bentley cashed a check made out to the school. The money never made it to the school's petty cash fund.

Bentley later admitted to taking $17,000 from the district. A state auditor's office investigation completed in December found Bentley had taken more than $118,000 going back to July 2006, when the paper trail grows harder to follow.

"I'm personally just disappointed that this situation would even happen in a public school district," said Krogstad, whose district has experienced several years of budget cuts.

Bentley's first court appearance is scheduled for Feb. 25 in Ada.