Former Dubuque Private School Official Pleads Admits Stealing $250-K

Mallet In Front Of A Judge Analyzing The Invoice

Photo: Getty Images

(Cedar Rapids, IA) -- A former curriculum and technology director for a Dubuque private school has pleaded guilty in federal court in Cedar Rapids to wire fraud. Forty-nine-year-old Todd Charles Wessels had been accused of stealing at $250,000 from the private school.

In a plea agreement, Wessels admitted he was the Curriculum and Technology Director for Holy Catholic Family school in Dubuque. Wessels also served in a dual role as the principal of one of the district's elementary schools.

Investigators say Wessels made purchases for his own benefit with the school district’s funds, with pre-paid debit cards using the school district’s store credit cards at area businesses upon the false and fraudulent pretense that he needed funds for “apps” for students’ computers.

Investigators say for nearly a decade Wessels then electronically transferred the balances of the pre-paid debit cards to a PayPal account he controlled. Wessels submitted false receipts to the district, and also the school district’s computer equipment on third-party Internet websites without its knowledge or permission.

A new chief administrator started looking into Wessel's spending practices in 2019. Wessels repeatedly lied to administrators and submitted fraudulent invoices and receipts. At meetings in January and February 2020, Wessels provided hardcopy versions of false, fraudulent, and fictitious spreadsheets purporting to show the apps he had purchased.

Sentencing before United States District Court Judge C.J. Williams will be set after a presentence report is prepared. Wessels remains free on bond pending sentencing. Wessels faces a possible maximum sentence of 20 years’ imprisonment, a $250,000 fine, and three years of supervised release following any imprisonment.

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