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Kanagawa school lunch chief embezzled ¥65 million due to ‘stress’

The chief examiner of Fujisawa City's school lunch division embezzled some 65 million yen from lunch money funds for dozens elementary schools (Nippon News Network)

KANAGAWA (TR) – The government of Fujisawa City plans to file a criminal complaint against the chief examiner of its school lunch division for embezzling some 65 million yen from lunch money funds for dozens of elementary schools, the Asahi Shimbun reported on Tuesday (July 19).

Fujisawa officials said the 61-year-old woman has admitted to falsifying documents for expenses like food costs under the superintendent’s name to siphon 64.7 million yen in cash from the school lunch assembly’s bank account from around 2011 to March 2015, when she was an assistant manager at the school lunch division.

The woman withdrew between 40,000 yen and 200,000 yen about three or four times a month from the bank account which held school lunch money collected from 36 elementary schools in Fujisawa, Nippon News Network reported.

“I succumbed to all the inquiries being made by parental guardians about food safety and radioactivity in the wake of the Great East Japan Earthquake,” the woman was quoted as telling city officials.

“I was physically and mentally stressed out. I used the money to eat out, buy clothes and pay off my mortgage.”

FNN News quoted the woman as saying she also used the money “for things like going on vacations and buying bags.”

The embezzlement by the woman, who handled payments alone, was discovered after city officials investigated reports that food costs were not logged between January and March in 2015.

“Laughably pathetic”

Outraged taxpayers quickly took to Twitter and blogs to blast the woman’s conduct, with many calling on a full repayment of the embezzled money.

One dismayed tweet read: “So a female Fujisawa City employee embezzled 64 million yen. But schools are always printing things like ‘please ensure you make your payments because school lunch menus could end up being replaced with cheaper options if families don’t properly pay.’ And yet after I pay up, the city has a criminal like that doing the books. How laughably pathetic.”