Public Integrity Unit Charges Former Highland Park Charter School Treasurer with Embezzling $25,000Contact: John Sellek or Joy Yearout 517-373-8060
March 11, 2011
LANSING - Attorney General Bill Schuette today announced that his Public Integrity Unit has filed a felony embezzlement charge against former George Washington Carver Academy Treasurer Shantell Bell. The charge comes as the result of an investigation conducted by the Michigan State Police Department that revealed Bell allegedly cut a $25,000 check to an Ohio title company to purchase a home, recording the expense in school financial records as a textbook purchase.
"The theft of resources from Michigan's children will not be tolerated," said Schuette. "We must root out corruption at all levels of government to ensure the public is served. Nobody will get a free pass when they break the law."
Bell, 37, of Southfield, previously served as the treasurer of George Washington Carver Academy in Highland Park. In March 2009, Bell allegedly fabricated a check request in the amount of $25,000 to purchase "textbooks." After receiving the check, which was made out to the alleged textbook company, Platinum Title Services, Bell exploited her authority as treasurer to have the school's bank convert it to a cashier's check. It is alleged that Bell then used the cashier's check to purchase a home in Detroit. Platinum Title Services was not a textbook company as Bell allegedly told school officials, but rather, an Ohio-based title company used to complete Bell's real estate transaction.
The crime was discovered after Bell's ex-boyfriend reported her actions to the Academy. The Academy later reported the crime to the Michigan State Police. Bell is no longer employed by the Academy.
Bell faces one count of Embezzlement over $20,000, which is a felony punishable by up to ten years in prison and a $75,000 fine. She was arrested today and is expected to be arraigned this afternoon in 30th District Court for Highland Park.
"I would like to thank the Michigan State Police for their work in investigating and uncovering this crime,"said Schuette.
On January 4, 2011, Attorney General Schuette created a new Public Integrity Unit in the Attorney General's office to ratchet up the fight against corruption in state and local government, protect tax dollars and restore the public's trust in government. The Public Integrity Unit allows the office to put an increased focus on public corruption cases, a priority Schuette identified upon taking office.
A criminal charge is merely an accusation and the defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty.
Listed below is a photo of the Detroit home allegedly purchased by Bell with embezzled funds :