Ex-Matteson SD 159 clerk charged with theft of $39K
BY CASEY TONER firstname.lastname@example.org May 10, 2013 7:24PM
Updated: June 13, 2013 7:12PM
A former Matteson School District 159 payroll clerk is facing theft charges after allegedly stealing about $39,000 from the district three years ago, court records show.
Judge Maria Kuriakos-Ciesil on Thursday set bail at $10,000 for Patricia Brewer, 64, of Matteson, at the Cook County Criminal Courts Building in Chicago, according to court records. Brewer is next due in court June 12.
A SouthtownStar investigation in February 2012 showed that Brewer was receiving multiple checks on payday and was issued a check for more than $15,000 just weeks before she was fired. After the SouthtownStar’s inquiry into the matter, former District 159 Board President Elliott Johnson said the board agreed to give the information to the state’s attorney’s office.
Brewer’s son, who has not been charged, also received more money than his job as a substitute teacher called for, records show. The school board fired Brewer and her son in June 2010, records show.
According to court records, the district hired Brewer in 2008 on a temporary basis as a payroll clerk. Later that year, former Supt. Ronald Wynn hired her as a permanent employee, which gave her access to the computer system the school district used for payroll and accounts payable.
In 2010, Brewer was promoted to the position of executive assistant to the superintendent. A new payroll clerk was hired when Brewer was promoted, but Brewer never relinquished her access to the computer system.
Court records show that between March and May 2010, Brewer allegedly fraudulently created three checks from the school district’s accounts payable account. The checks allegedly bore Wynn’s signature, were made payable to Brewer totaling $39,000, and she deposited them into her checking account.
Brewer previously told the SouthtownStar that she could not explain the checks.
“There’s a lot of animosity in the district and I don’t know what’s going on,” Brewer said. “Every penny I’ve got, they gave me.”
Former District 159 payroll clerk Traycee Fox later sued the district for more than $1 million for allegedly being fired as a whistle-blower in the case. The lawsuit claimed that Fox told District 159 Supt. Barbara Mason in May 2010 about an “apparent misappropriation of funds” by Mason’s assistant, Brewer.
Mason threatened to fire Fox if word got out about the missing money, according to the suit, and Fox was dismissed in September 2011.
Fox, who settled the case in January for less than $20,000, was elected to the District 159 Board in April. She declined comment.
Johnson said Friday the SouthtownStar “put the onus” on the board to act on the missing funds.
“It’s about time, first of all,” Johnson said. “It took long enough. I kind of wish that this could have been resolved at the point when it was first discovered.”