Former Chiles Teacher Pleads Guilty To Grand Theft

By: Caroline Gonzmart; Jill Chandler; Garin Flowers Email
By: Caroline Gonzmart; Jill Chandler; Garin Flowers Email
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[UPDATE]
February 18, 2014, 11:20pm

A former Leon County school teacher who pled guilty to grand theft will spend a year in jail and pay back thousands of dollars in restitution to the school system.

Tammy Bennett was accused of stealing money from Chiles High School where she was a teacher and worked on the yearbook program.

Investigators said she would make up reimbursements for herself that ended up being false claims, such as: travel, equipment purchases and supply purchases.

Her attorney said she was guilty for some of the false reimbursements, but said some of the missing money came from a bookkeeping mistake.

Auditors estimate she cost the school district close to $200,000. At her sentencing Tuesday afternoon, the judge sentenced Bennett to 11 months and 29 days in jail and ordered her to pay back an amount just short of $157,000 between Leon County Schools and a yearbook insurance company.

"We're relieved to finally have resolution in this case and a satisfactory verdict as well as relief for the schools, so that they can regain some of the money that is well-needed out there to continue the many programs they have," said John Hunkiar, chief of safety, security and emergency management for Leon County Schools.

The judge ordered Bennett to get a job and start paying back the money owed within 30 days after her release from the Leon County jail.

[UPDATE]
August 8, 2013, 10:30am

Tammy Bennett, the Chiles High School teacher accused of embezzling in 2011, pled guilty this morning to grand theft, which is a second degree felony.

She will be sentenced some time in the next four to six weeks.

She was charged with embezzling more than $100,000 in 2011.


[UPDATE]
November 22, 2011, 10:30am

A trial date has been scheduled for Tammy Bennett. Bennett is the Chiles High School teacher accused of embezzling more than $100,000.

Bennett was present for the first time in this morning's court hearing. Her attorney told the judge that it would be impossible to be ready for trial before June. Judge Hankinson commented that that is a long time from now, but granted the extra time anyway.

The judge set the trial for June 11, 2012. He also set pre-trial court dates for May and June.


[UPDATE]
October 3, 2011, 10:20am

There has been a delay in the status hearing for Chiles High School teacher Tammy Bennett. Bennett was arrested for embezzling more than $150,000.

No new date has been scheduled.


[UPDATE]
October 3, 2011

A teacher from Chiles High School heads back to court this morning to see where her case stands. Tammy Bennett was arrested for embezzling more than $150,000. She is accused of making up trips for students, but her attorney says it was a bookkeeping mistake. She is on administrative leave from her teaching position.


[UPDATE]
August 30, 2011, 5:38pm

The Leon County School District has policies in place to make sure money doesn't go missing.

Tammy Bennett, a teacher from Chiles high school, was arrested for embezzling more than $150,000 dollars. Now people are wondering what safeguards exist.

District policy number 6.3 reads " All checks are to be signed by two persons, the principal and one designee, excluding the bookkeeper. Pre numbered checks must be used, and adequate supporting documentation should be maintained."

For a closer look at the policies click the link below.

http://www.planning.leon.k12.fl.us/Policies/Index.html


[UPDATE]
August 29, 2011, 5:38pm

A Chiles High School teacher accused of embezzlement has posted bond and is now out of jail.

Tammy Bennett's arrest is still the buzz in school hallways, but her attorney said it's bad bookkeeping, not a crime.

The affidavit shows that Bennett made up trips for students, like a trip to Los Angeles, California.

In the past these expenses went unnoticed, but this year Leon County Schools changed its auditing system and noticed the suspicious activity during a routine spot check.

Tammy Bennet has worked in the school system for more than 20 years. Her attorney said she is not in the wrong.

Dean LeBoeuf said, "Chiles High School has a very, very poor bookkeeping system, and accounting system. And we're confident that when all of the facts come out, you'll see Tammy Bennett is not guilty of these charges."

Along with Bennett, the bookkeeper, Debbie Kimbro, has been put on administrative leave during the investigation.

"Following the disposition of the case with the State Attorney's office, Leon County Schools will undergo a full administrative review of the entire case," said Leon County Schools Spokesperson Chris Petley.

That review will include everyone at Chiles High School from Principal Alan Cox to staff.

Bennett is on administrative leave from Chiles High School--no word yet on how long that will last...However, The case has been turned over to the state attorney.


[UPDATE]
August 27, 2011, 12am

Leon County school officials say a trusted teacher is behind bars for stealing money from Chiles High School.

Leon County School officials say Tammy Bennett was arrested for Grand Theft and Executing an Organized Scheme to Defraud. (8/26)

Bennett allegedly filed false reimbursement forms for expenses that didn't exist.

School officials say they only caught her because of an internal audit that turned up 'irregularities.'

Explains the schools' Chief of Safety and Security, John Hunkiar, "It appears that the items submitted for reimbursements for travel and equipment purchases that there were items that were not actually purchased and travel that did not actually occur."

Still, parents of Chiles High students say they're not too concerned about what this means for the kids.

Aaron Clark is the school's Athletic Director. He also has a daughter who's in the 11th grade. He says his daughter hasn't mentioned hearing anything about the embezzling.

Says Clark, "I think it's been contained. I think [Principal]Cox and the rest of the administration have done a good job, and I have the utmost confidence in them as a parent to run the school and do what they need to do."

Chiles Principal Alan Cox says he "hates" to have the high school's otherwise sterling reputation sullied by the "bad apple."

School officials say things like this generally do not happen in Leon County schools; however, that's the reason they have the audits in place

Principal Cox says he wants 'every penny' of the $150,000 repaid.

He says yearbooks will be printed as usual despite the thefts.


[UPDATE]
August 26, 2011, 3pm

LEON COUNTY SCHOOLS RELEASE --- Chiles High School Teacher Tammy Bennett was arrested for Grand Theft and Executing an Organized Scheme to Defraud totaling at least $150,000. Internal audit findings surrounding the yearbook program led to a criminal investigation at Chiles High School.

While this matter has been under investigation, Ms. Bennett has been placed on administrative leave pending the outcome. Leon County Schools will initiate termination proceedings immediately and will be seeking full restitution.

Earlier this month, a Leon County School's spokesperson said they were conducting an internal investigation of an incident at Chiles High School involving an employee. No other details were given at the time.


Tallahassee, Florida -- Leon County School's spokesperson says they are conducting an internal investigation of an incident at Chiles High School involving an employee.

They would not disclose the nature of the investigation, and said they will be releasing more information next week.

WCTV will be covering the story, and will post details as soon as they are made available.


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Comments are posted from viewers like you and do not always reflect the views of this station.
  • by jerome on Nov 23, 2011 at 03:43 PM
    Most Chiles students are white trash, the parents are white trash, and now we find out even the teachers are white trash. The Killearn Lakes area is full of wannabe upper class people, behind on their mortgage and other bills. This teacher probably had to steal to stay in the house she couldn't afford, just like many Chiles parents.
    • reply
      by White Trash Killearn Lakes resident whose house is paid off on Nov 24, 2011 at 01:14 PM in reply to jerome
      Your not racial profiling now, are you?
  • by Larry on Nov 22, 2011 at 06:08 PM
    Tammy Burglarizeit was obviously just scimming off the top for lunch money
  • by Dustin on Nov 22, 2011 at 05:50 PM
    It's sad this buffet bandit's white trash friends are here to blindly defend her. (I'm white BTW).
  • by Dan on Nov 22, 2011 at 05:46 PM
    Who cares if she stole money from Chiles, it's not like that rich school needs it. Have you seen Chiles "students"? Just a bunch of spoiled little rich rednecks in training, showing off their salt life and rebel flag bumper stickers on the back of the 50,000 dollar that truck daddy bought them. I'm sure they have another 100K stuck between the couch cushins in the Chiles lounge.
    • reply
      by Chiles Parent on Nov 23, 2011 at 04:05 AM in reply to Dan
      Dan, your class envy is showing again.
      • reply
        by Dan on Nov 23, 2011 at 03:37 PM in reply to Chiles Parent
        Redneck Chiles Parent, I'm certain I make a lot more money than you, but lacking intelligence you assumed I was poor based on my comment. Other deserving schools do not have facilities as nice as Chiles, spoiled salt life children who grow up with a silver spoon in their mouth shouldn't get all the funding. Boo hoo, the nicest school in town lost some money, I'm more worried about the poor schools where the kids actually have character (not the little rebel flag waivers who drive a 50K truck daddy bought them)
  • by STEVE on Nov 22, 2011 at 05:32 PM
    How many teachers are in Florida and how many are stealing like Bennett did? No wonder property taxes are so high. Stealing teachers need the dough.
  • by Tim Location: Tallahassee on Nov 22, 2011 at 03:36 PM
    If this teacher did what she has been accused of, then she should be prosecuted to the fullest. The Principal signed the checks and is responsible for what happens in the school. I really wonder why the principals appointed at some of these schools got appointed. The new principal appointed at Lincoln is horrible. Pons could careless about what is going on there. So is there a reason why he will not do something about these bad principals??? Maybe they contribute to his campaign?
    • reply
      by Anonymous on Nov 22, 2011 at 05:21 PM in reply to Tim
      What? She has to be persecuted(put on trial) to determine if she DID so what she is accused of. If she did do this, she should be punished(sentenced) to the fullest!
      • reply
        by Lol on Nov 25, 2011 at 01:30 PM in reply to
        I believe the word you were thinking of is "prosecuted." However, she is being "persecuted" by the comments posted here. I'll let a jury decide.
  • by Lilly Love Location: Tallahassee on Nov 22, 2011 at 08:37 AM
    She did in fact have a secret closet. This fact was confirmed because of reports that it was painted by TPD.
    • reply
      by Anonymous on Nov 22, 2011 at 05:22 PM in reply to Lilly Love
      Why would TPD paint a closet?
      • reply
        by Lilly Love on Nov 23, 2011 at 03:21 AM in reply to
        Same reason they painted graffiti. It keeps them from having to solve robberies.
  • by really Location: ne tally on Oct 3, 2011 at 01:56 PM
    This woman is an nothing but an ugly thief. If she were black there would be no one defending her. People who are not familiar with her and her practices should not comment. She has been involved in so many "questionable" tactics over the years. She is rich and white so she will get the best defense. She will plead to a lesser charge and it will go away. Just keep her out of the schools. This is coming from a white guy.
    • reply
      by Ezele on Nov 25, 2011 at 01:31 PM in reply to really
      What about Doris Bongo? She stole from the City and she's black. When is her trial scheduled? Black or white, a thief is STILL a thief.
  • by Anonymous on Oct 3, 2011 at 10:10 AM
    I'm still trying to get over the concept of a "secret closet" in a teacher's room. Glad this thug is away from our kids.
    • reply
      by RIGHT??? on Oct 3, 2011 at 01:37 PM in reply to
      That just sounds creepy! How was THAT allowed?????
      • reply
        by Anonymous on Oct 3, 2011 at 04:35 PM in reply to RIGHT???
        Were you there, in the closet? Did you see this happen? I can answer that for you. No, you weren't and no you didn't. Stop being a sheep and believing everything you read on the internet. It's pathetic. Get a life.
        • reply
          by vcw on Oct 6, 2011 at 07:51 PM in reply to
          Every student who had Bennett for a "teacher", knows that she had a secret closet. FACT.
        • reply
          by LOL on Oct 7, 2011 at 07:10 AM in reply to
          you're defending this woman? being a sheep? and you tell that person it is pathetic and to get a life? HA! Shut up Ms. Bennett. Go away.
        • reply
          by Anonymous on Oct 7, 2011 at 09:57 PM in reply to
          This isn't Mrs. Bennett and you should be ashamed of yourself. What joy do you get out of commenting on this issue? It's pathetic. Are your lives so pathetic that it makes you feel better to bash somebody else online? You all need to find better things to do. In the words of a very brilliant person: "Mind your own little red wagon."
        • reply
          by Anonymous on Nov 22, 2011 at 08:10 AM in reply to
          I should be ashamed of myself?? Ashamed of what, exactly? I pay taxes to support the school system and this "woman" just takes money as she pleases. You should be ashamed of yourself for being the idiotic sheep who supports someone getting rich off of kids and other people's money! She is the lowest of the low. Complete scum. Guess what....it's not a "bookkeeping error" if you can't support trips that were supposedly made. She's disgusting and obviosuly so are you. Maybe you were in on it with her.
        • reply
          by Anonymous on Nov 22, 2011 at 09:21 AM in reply to
          Do you really have nothing better to do than sit on here and wait for updates so you can state your opinion that nobody cares about? HAHAHA very sad. Go get a hobby.
  • by Lilly Love Location: Henderson St. on Oct 3, 2011 at 05:37 AM
    Give the woman a break. Mayor Marks takes money (82,000) for his vote. Bill Proctor owes 90,000 in election fraud and a lot more for going years without paying taxes. A school teacher she be allowed to steal just the same as a politician even if she is white.
    • reply
      by Anonymous on Oct 3, 2011 at 10:08 AM in reply to Lilly Love
      2 wrongs do not make a right. Marks, and Proctor dealing with these issues and have not gotten a free pass. Neither should this thug.
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