TERRELL, Texas — A former Terrell ISD school employee who was indicted by a grand jury and booked and released from jail last week could be responsible for over $80,000 in misappropriations of student funds, according to arrest warrant affidavits.
Sharraine Lajuan Williams, 52, of Terrell, has been charged and indicted with one count of theft of property greater than or equal to $2,500 and less than $30,000, a state jail felony. Williams was also charged and indicted on one count of obstruction or retaliation, one count of tampering with a government record in an attempt to defraud or harm, and one count of tampering with a witness, all third-degree felonies.
Williams' positions included director of the Tigerette Drill team, high school cheerleading, and Special Olympics.
According to a series of arrest warrant affidavits obtained by inForney.com, the district’s finance director began an internal audit of the Tigerette and Cheer Agency funds, student’s money held by the district, in April of last year. During the audit, the procedures for managing these funds were discussed with Williams.
“Ms. Williams acknowledged she knew and understood the procedures but admitted to taking money home occasionally which is a violation of District procedures,” the affidavit states.
Williams assured the auditor that receipts were always written for money collected, no funds were kept in the Tigerette gym office, and that all deposits were made in a timely manner. However, the auditor found Williams comments contradictory to others interviewed.
Ms. William’s assistants, several consultants, employees, students, and parents were also interviewed.
“All interviewed confirmed Ms. Williams did in fact keep money in a baggie rather than deposit the money. Those interviewed also indicated that receipts were not always issued for money collected and store receipts were not always submitted for reimbursement,” the affidavit states.
Interviews also revealed that parents had concerns about Ms. William’s handling of funds. According to one parent who was a member of the Cheerleading Parent Board, Ms. Williams would never provide financial statements, but tell them they did not have money for equipment or supplies.
“The group would have multiple fundraisers but Ms. Williams continued to tell them there was no money in the account,” according to the affidavit.
In May 2018, the annual Tigerette Show was touted as the one of the most successful in history. Williams reported that over 1,600 tickets were sold to the two-night event that honored her. Tickets were $10 each, so an estimation of $16,000 should have been raised. According to the affidavits, bank and school records indicate that $7,250 was collected from Tigerette members and ticket sales, however only $3,739 was deposited in the bank.
“That’s a difference of $3,511 that Ms. Williams appropriated,” the affidavit states.
Williams is also accused of taking money from the Tigerette Alumni association which hosted a brunch prior to the annual spring show. A portion of those funds were discovered deposited into Williams personal bank account after investigators subpoenaed her personal bank records.
“The deposit slips showed money from the Tigerette Alumni Group was deposited into Ms. Williams’ personal checking account at American National bank,” the affidavit states.
Williams was put on paid administrative leave from her post at Terrell ISD on May 13, however in mid June, Williams reached out to one of the alumni about opening a bank account to deposit the remaining money from the alumni brunch. According to the affidavit, after learning that the money had already been handed over to the district, Williams delivered an orange folder of shredded documents to the alumni’s mailbox.
“The shredded documents contained the debit card with Sharraine Williams name and various other items belonging to Ms. Williams,” the affidavit states. “Ms. Williams’ note on the orange folder was threatening due to the language of ‘Keep my name out of your mouth real friends are telling me!’”
The affidavit also reveals that according to TISD policy, before student activity funds were spent, Ms. Williams was supposed to receive the students’ approval.
“Rather than request approval each time that funds were to be spent, Ms. Williams’ had the students sign a form at the beginning of the year. The intended purpose of the fund expenditure was left blank. Ms. Williams then copied that form and then wrote in the purpose of the expenditures at a later date when she needed the funds. In other words, she falsified the records by indicating the students approved a specific expenditure when in fact they did not know about their funds being spent. She used the copied form for a number of unauthorized expenditures,” the affidavit states.
“During the internal audit, the District found two instances where the same pre-signed request for student funds were used. In both cases, the students were not aware of the costs of the expenditures,” the affidavit states.
One instance, in the Fall of 2018, Senior Tigerettes attended an overnight trip in Frisco. According to the affidavit, the students did not know that over $1,200 of their funds paid for the hotel, meals, indoor sky diving, and gifts of luggage. Rather, the students were led to believe that Williams paid out of her own pocket for the trip.
“On the same trip, Ms. Williams requested $81.00 for three adult meals including herself. However, she and the other adults did not attend the overnight or eat dinner with the team. TISD policy only allows for meals to be paid for when employees are on overnight trips. Ms. Williams also requested meal money for a couple of students that did not attend the trip. Ms. Williams did not return the requested meal money for the adults and students to the District. While Ms. Williams and the other adults did eat dinner without the students, the other two adults paid for their own meals. Ms. Williams also left the students at a hotel without a TISD employee supervising them in violation of TISD policy,” the affidavit states.
Investigators are continuing to investigate Williams and more charges are possible according to the affidavit.
“Due to the volume and amounts involved over the past ten years, this is an ongoing investigation into additional theft offenses involving Ms. Williams. The current unaccounted fund equals to approximately $63,000. Based on a preliminary investigation the amount that can be proven with supporting documentation equals approximately $23,000,” the affidavit says.
Williams voluntarily surrendered herself to the Kaufman County jail Friday afternoon where she was booked and released a few hours later on bonds totaling $40,000. As a condition of her bond, Williams cannot attend any TISD school function, facility, or property until the completion of her case.
William’s husband, Reginald Williams, has served on the TISD board of trustees since 2007 and currently serves as the board’s Vice President. Authorities tell inForney.com that they’re currently investigating what he knew about his wife’s actions and trying to determine if he had any involvement in the crimes.
Reginald Williams was previously charged with petty theft in December 2009 when he was apprehended in the Terrell Wal-Mart for stealing a bottle of cologne, according to Terrell Police Department records. He was issued a citation for theft under $50, as well as a criminal trespass warning, and then was released.
Williams’ first announcement hearing before a judge has not been scheduled at the time of press.