The 60-year-old educator allegedly started requesting checks from the school’s external fiscal agent account to be issued under other individuals’ names from September 2006 until May 2019.
The New Mission School is an inclusive, portfolio-based pilot school program that serves grades 7-12, according to its website.
A pilot school budget like New Mission’s is typically overseen by an external fiscal agent that issues checks at an administrator’s request.
She would then “fraudulently endorse those checks to herself and then deposited them into her own bank account.”
Wilson repeated the scheme for trips to Barbados in 2016 and 2018, and even requested the fiscal agent issue checks for two of her friends who accompanied the principal on the vacation.
“Instead of working honestly on behalf of her students, Naia Wilson is accused of abusing her authority and using the school’s budget as her own personal slush fund to embezzle tens of thousands of dollars to fund two all-inclusive vacations to Barbados for herself and her friends,” said Christopher DiMenna, acting special agent in charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Boston Division.
Wilson pleaded guilty and agreed to pay restitution. She will appear in federal court in Boston at a later date.
Wire fraud can land a person in prison for a maximum sentence of 20 years, up to three years of supervised release, and a fine of up to $250,000.
“Protecting children is one of the very top priorities of this Office and threats come in all forms. Here, Ms. Wilson is accused of diverting school funds for her personal benefit,” said Acting United States Attorney Joshua S. Levy.
“We will not allow this type of gross abuse of authority and responsibility [to] fly under the radar. Individuals who take advantage of public trust to line their pockets will be investigated and held accountable.”
The DOJ added that the details contained in Wilson’s charging documents are allegations until she is proven guilty.
Wilson’s misuse of funds comes nearly a year after a Catholic school teacher in Washington, DC, was sentenced to 30 months in prison for embezzling $175,000 meant for student services.
Bridget Coates, 49, used the funds “to purchase designer fashion from luxury brands and to help her qualify for a home mortgage loan,” among other purposes, prosecutors said.
Coates was also ordered to complete three years of supervised release following her jail term and “pay $175,000 in restitution to the Archdiocese of Washington.”