Ex-Whittier principal pleads guilty to swindling school district

A former Whittier International Elementary School principal has pleaded guilty to three counts of theft by swindle for using a Minneapolis Public Schools credit card to purchase items for herself, Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman announced Thursday.

Anne DePerry, 56, entered a straight plea to the charges on Thursday in Hennepin County District Court. That means her attorney and Assistant Hennepin County Attorney Susan Crumb will argue her sentence before the judge on Feb. 20.

The Minnesota Sentencing Guidelines recommend probation for DePerry, because she has no previous record and because the amount swindled was not large. The argument at the sentencing hearing will be about the length of probation and whether she should serve time in the county workhouse, according to a county news release.

Another complicating factor will be if she can serve the probation in California, where she works at a charter school.

According to the criminal complaint and DePerry’s admissions in court:

A random audit by the School District in October 2015 turned up a charge on the School District credit card issued to DePerry at a hat store overseas. The auditor then looked at six weeks of charges by DePerry and found others that were not for school-related expenses.

When the auditor contacted DePerry, she said she must have accidentally used the wrong card and offered to write a check for the $1,700 in charges turned up over that six-week period. Instead, the auditor went back and looked at all the times DePerry had used the charge card since it was issued to her.

The complete audit found that from December 2013 through September 2015, DePerry made $11,830 in charges that were not school related and $5,440 that were suspicious but could not be completely ruled out as school related.

DePerry resigned from the school district the following month. She has signed a civil confession of judgment with the Minneapolis school district for $10,000, which will be part of the argument at her sentencing over whether she is ordered to pay restitution.