The former assistant superintendent of Grand Haven Area Public Schools has been arrested and charged with embezzling more than $100,000 from the school district.
Late Tuesday afternoon, police issued an arrest warrant for Brian Wheeler, 56, and said he may have fled the area in one of two vehicles: a 2013 Buick Enclave or a 2005 motorhome. They said he had been the subject of a police investigation for embezzlement reported by the school district’s senior staff.
On Wednesday, police said Wheeler was located Tuesday evening in the city of Muskegon and taken into custody by the Muskegon Police Department. He was transported to the Ottawa County Jail, where he was lodged and is currently being held.
Wheeler was arraigned Wednesday morning in the 58th District Court in Ottawa County. He has been charged with the following two felony counts: embezzlement, $100,000 or more; and using computers to commit crime. Bond was set at $150,000 cash surety.
His employment with the school district has been terminated, officials said Tuesday.
Detectives from the Grand Haven Department of Public Safety say irregularities in financial transactions over an extended period were discovered in accounts directly managed by the suspect. The investigation has been ongoing since early this month with full support from the school district’s administration, said Grand Haven Public Safety Director Jeff Hawke.
A final accounting of allegedly embezzled funds is pending a forensic audit, police said. The initial investigation has revealed that the amount will be well in excess of $100,000, Hawke said Tuesday.
GHAPS Superintendent Andy Ingall sent out a letter Tuesday to the school district’s parents, saying Wheeler was placed on administrative leave on Nov. 5.
“After he failed to appear at multiple investigatory interviews to explain irregularities in financial accounts he directly managed, the district terminated his employment on Nov. 22,” Ingall wrote. “We are all shocked and distressed that a trusted member of our leadership team, someone with more than 20 years of employment with the district, appears to have embezzled from our schools. Internal and external investigations are currently underway, including an independent forensic accounting analysis.
“I understand that you may have questions about the details of the situation, but to protect the integrity of the ongoing investigations, there’s nothing more I can share at this time,” Ingall added.
Lt. Clint Holt of the Grand Haven department on Wednesday would not elaborate on Wheeler’s arrest.
“Additional information will be released once a forensic audit is completed,” Holt said.