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Former East Ridge High principal charged with felony theft

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Aaron Harper, the former principal of East Ridge High School in Woodbury, has been charged with three counts of felony theft for allegedly misusing school funds.

Harper, who resigned as principal in November 2014 after the school district investigated complaints made against him, was charged Friday for allegedly using school funds to buy thousands of dollars worth of items in violation of school district policies, the South Washington County Bulletin reports.

Each charge carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $10,000 fine.

The South Washington County School District released documents in January describing thousands of dollars worth of purchases that Harper made using school funds without authorization.

The criminal complaint lists a similar series of purchases, many of which Harper made with a credit card issued by the school district, according to the St. Paul Pioneer Press.

Harper is also accused of maintaining a “slush fund” of cash from student parking fees and using it to pay for food for students and staff, reimbursements and other purchases, without providing documentation or an explanation. According to the complaint, Harper used $2,322 from the fund from 2012-2014.

Harper, 39, was not disciplined by the school district and did not receive any payments when he resigned. But he signed an agreement giving up his right to file any claims against the district in the future. Harper has not commented publicly on the police investigation.

No date has been set for his initial court appearance. Harper was charged by summons, meaning he is not in custody.

An interim principal has led East Ridge since Harper's resignation in November, and the district hired a permanent replacement to lead the school beginning in July.

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