The former senior director of fiscal services at a school district in Orange County has pleaded guilty to embezzling nearly $16 million over several years from the schools he was hired to serve, federal authorities announced Thursday.

Jorge Armando Contreras, a 53-year-old resident of Yorba Linda, was hired by the Magnolia School District, which served students in Anaheim and Stanton, in 2006 to manage the district’s financial operations, according to a Department of Justice, Central District of California, news release.

During his tenure in that position, prosecutors say Contreras wrote checks in small dollar amounts to “MSD,” with the letters spaced out.

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After receiving proper signatures from authorized personnel, he would then insert fictitious names, increase the amount of the checks and deposit them into his personal bank account using ATMs.

The 53-year-old would provide falsified bank statements and records to the schools to conceal his fraud, authorities said.

In total, Contreras was admitted to stealing $15,920,042 from the district, where more than 80% of the preschool through sixth-grade student body is classified as socio-economically disadvantaged.

Former OC education official who invested $16M bought jewelry, handbags, tequilaFormer OC education official who invested $16M bought jewelry, handbags, tequila

Former OC education official who invested $16M bought jewelry, handbags, tequila

“Law enforcement so far has seized approximately $7.7 million in personal and real property traced to the scheme, including a home in Yorba Linda, a 2021 BMW automobile, 57 luxury designer bags (mostly Louis Vuitton), various pieces of jewelry, designer clothes and shoes, and eight bottles of Clase Azul Ultra luxury tequila,” the release noted.

Contreras pleaded guilty to one count of embezzlement, theft and intentional misapplication of funds from an organization receiving federal funds, a felony offense with a statutory maximum sentence of 10 years in federal prison.

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He was placed on administrative leave in August 2023 and is currently free on a $450,000 bond. A judicial hearing has been scheduled for July 25.

The FBI, IRS Criminal Investigation, and the United States Department of Education’s Office of Inspector General are investigating this case.

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By ting