MCPS transportation managers face embezzlement investigation

Oct. 11, 2022, 4:16 p.m. | By Alexander Liu | 1 year, 7 months ago

Maryland General Assembly details possible embezzlement in annual audit report

In an audit released Sept. 29, the Maryland Department of Legislative Services states that two former Montgomery County Public School (MCPS) transportation managers are under an investigation for making over $500,000 in questionable purchases. These purchases were discovered last year by MCPS’s procurement department. 

Purchases made include gift cards, furniture, and other purchases which were shipped to the employee’s homes. The report also detailed an “off the books” account maintained by a transportation vendor outside of MCPS. The account circumvented existing MCPS policies and procedures in order to externally pay several employees and purchase goods and services. 

The two employees were put on administrative leave on Nov. 15, 2021 after an internal investigation by MCPS. One employee was fired in Feb. 2022 while the other resigned in Mar. 2022. 

While the names of the two employees were redacted in the report, MCPS said to multiple news outlets in Nov. 2021 that former Transportation Department Director Todd Watkins and Assistant Director Charles Ewald were placed on administrative leave, and were under investigation for credit card abuse.

Following the investigation, MCPS changed its vendor for purchasing buses, conducted reviews of credit card transactions, provided extra training for staff with credit cards and decreased credit card purchasing limits.

Additionally, Director of the MCPS Department of Communications Chris Cram reported that MCPS has mitigated the financial losses incurred by the potential embezzlement. “To date, MCPS has recovered in excess of $800,000,” Cram said. 

Last updated: Oct. 11, 2022, 6:32 p.m.

Tags: MCPS money transportation

Alexander Liu. Hi, I'm Alex (he/him) and I'll be a staff writer for SCO this year. I'm passionate about public policy and international relations. In my free time, I enjoy drawing and watching terrible rom-coms. More »

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