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Finance director arrested on embezzlement, burglary, forgery and drug violations

  • ROLLING PAINT, ENROLLING STUDENTS---Volunteer Rogelio Pedro Damaso (cq) rolls paint on the new sign as the sign legs set in wet concrete outside the Kid Street Learning Center housing school and theater in the Davis Street facility in Santa Rosa March 6 Tuesday. (Press Democrat/ mark aronoff)

The finance manager of a Santa Rosa charter school will face charges Thursday of embezzling nearly $400,000 to support a prescription narcotics habit, Santa Rosa police officials said Wednesday.

Sheila Accornero is suspected of <NO1><NO>writing checks to herself and hiding money through accounting techniques during the five years she managed the books for the Kid Street Learning Center Charter School on Davis Street, Sgt. Michael Lazzarini said.

"It appears that all the money went to drugs," said Lazzarini, who runs the property crimes unit. "That's a huge habit. And just with the sheer quantity found at the time of her arrest .<TH>.<TH>. . She had a lot with her."

Accornero, 42, the school's finance and business manager, was arrested Tuesday afternoon at the school and is being held without bail on suspicion of embezzlement, forgery and burglary.

She had prescription narcotics, including Vicodin and hydrocodone, in her possession, a violation of her probation for a prior drug related-conviction in 2009, police officials said.

Kid Street Executive Director Linda Conklin held an emergency board meeting Wednesday afternoon at the school's Lincoln Arts Center building to tell her directors about Accornero's arrest.

"I'm just in shock," Conklin said before the meeting. "Everybody in the whole house is in shock."

Standing beside board President Kay Smith, Conklin promised a "forensic accounting" of the school's books and said Kid Street will start its school year on Monday as scheduled. The school, designed to help families "living in extreme crisis," including homelessness, is expected to enroll 50 students in first through sixth grade.

Conklin said the charter school has insurance that should help cover losses from stolen funds.

Asked how Accornero could have taken money without anyone noticing, Conklin responded, "We've had audits every year and they've been clean."

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