Former Valentine ISD Employee Arrested for Fraudulent Use of School Funds

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A 42-year-old former employee of Valentine Independent School District in Texas has been arrested and charged with multiple counts of fraud and theft. Ernesto Villarreal, of Marfa, allegedly misused credit cards issued by the school district for personal expenses, totaling hundreds of unauthorized purchases.

According to court documents, Villarreal, who served as business manager and tax assessor/collector, used the credit cards for personal expenditures, including travel, lodging, home improvements, and other unauthorized purchases. The indictment also accuses Villarreal of accessing payroll information for several employees and former employees, creating fraudulent payroll statements, and redirecting their direct deposit payments to his personal bank account.

Villarreal faces one count of theft concerning programs receiving federal funds and eight counts of wire fraud. If convicted, he could face up to 10 years in prison for the theft charge and up to 20 years in prison for each wire fraud count. A federal district court judge will determine the sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

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