FORMER CNMI SCHOOL PRINCIPAL ADMITS THEFT

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By Cherrie Anne E. Villahermosa

SAIPAN, CNMI (Marianas Variety, July 3) – The Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) Public School System’s assistant associate commissioner for special programs who was arrested for theft has admitted the crime and apologized for her wrongdoing.

Doreen ManglonaTudela, 38, the former principal of Kagman High School, submitted a statement to an Office of the Public Auditor investigator, saying she stole $30,186.45 from KagHS.

Tudela admitted that she used her position to steal the money for her personal use.

"What I did was wrong and I want to do it right by admitting the truth in this statement and by paying back all monies to the school," Tudela said in her statement submitted to an OPA investigator during an interview with her on June 12.

"I deeply apologize for my wrongdoing and I am deeply remorseful for my poor decision and actions. I want to make good of this wrong," Tudela stated in her statement adding she made a payment in the amount of $37,100 to the school on June 11, 2007.

However the affidavit of investigator Rolando Decena stated that the checks that Tudela issued to the school on June 11 was returned due to insufficient funds.

Tudela was arrested on July 28 at 5:15 p.m. for theft and issuance of bad checks.

She appeared in Superior Court for a bail hearing on Friday morning.

A $35,000 bail was imposed for her temporary release.

Judge David Wiseman modified the bail and allowed Tudela to post a $35,000 property bond and a $35,000 unsecured bond.

Tudela was released to a third party custodian, her brother-in-law. Her arraignment was set for July 9.

The OPA affidavit submitted to the court stated that two companies had contracts with PSS to serve lunches for Kagman High School students .

These were Barny’s Pizza and Kalayaan.

Barny’s Pizza also had an exclusive contract with Kagman to sell food at its canteen.

The affidavit stated that Tudela asked for an advance payment of $18,200 from Barny’s Pizza for rental fees and for the exclusive use of the school canteen to sell its food items.

Tudela claimed that the advance payment would be used for the renovation and repair of burned classrooms and for other school maintenance.

The burned classrooms, however, were renovated and repaired through federal capital improvement project funds and not through the money that Barny’s Pizza paid in advance.

All of the school’s collections and other funds, including rent payments, were deposited to the First Hawaiian Bank.

Tudela served as a principal of the school from Jan. 2003 to Aug. 2006.

Tudela was replaced by Alfred Ada.

When Ada took over, Tudela handed him a check for more than $1,000 from the school’s account.

Ada then opened a new account at the Bank of Guam.

The affidavit stated that Tudela deposited two checks of Kagman High School in her account.

The checks were reimbursement for the use of her credit card to pay for the students graduation gowns.

Investigator later received bank records pertaining to Kagman High School’s account and found 32 checks amounting to $36,537.15 deposited to Tudela’s account at the First Hawaiian Bank. One check made payable to Tudela in the amount of $1,218 was cashed at the bank.

In her statement, Tudela identified 26 checks from Kagman High School which she requested for and used for her personal reasons.

Tudela said the monies were used to help her with her family’s cost of living and financial obligations, adding that her husband lost his job in 2004.

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