Ex-school superintendent charged with alleged $42,000 embezzlement

The 63-year-old allegedly swindled the school district over an 18-month period.

Rockford School District

A former school superintendent has been charged with embezzling public funds to the tune of more than $42,000.

Paul Durand, 63, of Rockford, is the former superintendent for the Rockford School District, a position he held between 2010 and 2019.

An investigation into unusual spending on a district-issued credit card was sparked after the district's auditor found it had been used to buy two Apple watches, home security monitoring equipment, a vehicle dash cam, and "other items not customary for district business."

Further investigation allegedly found that Durand had bought new laptops every 18 months outside of the usual procurement process for school district equipment, and that he had failed to complete forms for many of his credit card purchases, as required by the district.

On the occasions he did fill out a form, he would write "tech account" on it, with a review of his contract finding there was nothing that showed he could use a "technology account" at his own discretion.

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When confronted about it, Durand claimed he did have his own tech budget. Nonetheless he was placed on administrative leave in October 2019 as the investigation continued. He resigned in November.

Further analysis found that Durand's alleged spending with the card covered 192 items between 2010 and 2019 that were not "business related or authorized by law."

It totaled $42,651, with purchases including more than $3,800 on fuel, despite receiving a monthly stipend for vehicle usage worth $650, with other purchases including an underwater camera, a FitBit, and an Amazon Echo.

He has been charged with 11 counts of embezzlement and 3 counts of theft by swindle that spans the period between February 2018 and October 2019.

In a statement to the Star Tribune, Durand's attorney Peter Wold said all his expenditures went before the school board, and he had no intent "to swindle or defraud anyone."

He added that he's surprised his client got charged, and said he doesn't expect prosecutors will be able to prove intent to swindle.

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