Chief School Custodian Held in Embezzlement of $430,000

The lead custodian for the Inglewood Unified School District was arrested Friday on suspicion of stealing more than $430,000 from his employer, authorities said.

Andrew Lee Truesdale, who was being held on $431,000 bail, is charged with conspiracy, grand theft, embezzlement of public funds, forgery and possession of checks with intent to defraud.

Officials suspect that Truesdale falsified documents under 77 different names of substitute employees on the district payroll. Altogether, the district issued $430,000 in payroll checks to custodians who never actually did any work, school officials said. It is not clear whether some of the workers even exist, officials said.

Supt. McKinley Nash said he became aware of a problem during a routine audit of the account for substitute employees last month. He notified the city manager when he found that during a four-month period ending in October the account had expended double its yearly budget. Soon after, Inglewood police began an investigation.

Although police declined to reveal what evidence led to the arrest, they said the suspect was carrying paychecks from the school district when he was taken into custody about 8 a.m. Friday.

Police Chief Oliver M. Thompson said he suspects there are more people involved in the scheme. There will probably be more arrests, he said.

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