The former Franklin County Schools finance director indicted earlier this month on tax evasion charges was arraigned Friday in Franklin County Circuit Court.
Lesley Asher Wade, 44, pleaded not guilty to nine counts of willfully filing or making false tax returns or failure to pay taxes, a Class D felony.
Wade resigned from the school district last summer as the FBI investigated allegations she stole an estimated $1.5 million over nine years from the district, FCS Superintendent Mark Kopp told The State Journal in January.
On Feb. 4, a Franklin County Circuit Court grand jury indicted Wade on the tax evasion charges, which span from 2011 to 2019.
Commonwealth’s Attorney Larry Cleveland told The State Journal earlier this month that the Kentucky Revenue Cabinet is seeking restitution on the taxes for the money Wade allegedly stole from the school district.
If convicted, Wade could owe about $140,000. Roughly $58,000 of that is in penalties and interest while the remaining $82,000 would have been collected in taxes, Cleveland said.
The embezzlement investigation began after the FBI received a tip from Commonwealth Credit Union about a suspicious check Wade attempted to deposit, Kopp said.
According to Kopp, Wade embezzled the money by writing fake invoices to the school district with real companies' names. Wade is accused of then doctoring checks to deposit in her bank account.
FCS has already received $600,000 of the nearly $1.5 million Wade is accused of stealing back through a bonding company.
Wade worked for FCS' finance department for 19 years.
As of Friday, the Eastern District of Kentucky U.S. Attorney’s Office had no update on the federal investigation against Wade.
“We cannot discuss any potential ongoing investigations,” Public Affairs Specialist Gabrielle Dudgeon said.
The State Journal also contacted the FBI and Wade’s attorney Dan Carman, but they did not respond to request for comment by press time.
Wade faces one to five years of prison per charge.