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Forum staff reports, Published March 05 2009

Former school bookkeeper pleads not guilty to taking $118,000 from district

ADA, Minn. – Marcella Bentley, a former Norman County East School District bookkeeper accused of taking more than $118,000 in district money, has pleaded not guilty.

Bentley , who resigned last spring after 30 years with the district, is charged with one count of theft, one count of embezzlement of public funds and two counts of check forgery.

A state auditor’s office probe completed in December, which did not mention Bentley by name, outlined the disappearance of school dollars going back to July 2006.

Bentley’s pre-trial hearing is tentatively scheduled for 9 a.m. May 6 in Ada.

Norman County Attorney Thomas Opheim has said his office would pursue full restitution if Bentley is convicted.