Rialto Unified School District

By Richard Winton
October 4, 2013, 7:30 p.m.

This post has been has corrected. See below for details.

Usually it’s the school bully who steals lunch money from the kids.

But in Rialto, it’s allegedly the accountant hired to keep an eye on the lunch money.

When accountant Judith Oakes was arrested on suspicion of embezzling from the school district’s nutrition services department this summer — allegedly caught on surveillance tape stuffing cash in her bra — officials said they were staggered when they were told that as much as $3.16 million might be missing.

Oakes has now been arrested on embezzlement and grand theft charges, but the fallout from the lunch money episode could extend further as law enforcement agencies and the state Department of Education are investigating why the loss was not spotted sooner.

[For the record, 7:49 p.m., Oct. 4: A previous version of this post incorrectly said Oakes had been charged. She has been arrested but not charged.]

An investigative firm hired by the Rialto Unified School District has so far found a “documented loss of at least $1.8 million but warned it could reach as high as $3.16 million, including discrepancies that could not be documented. School records go back to 2005.

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