ITHACA, N.Y. — Lansing resident Diane Heffner, 67, has been accused of stealing money and altering business records of New Roots Charter School in the Ithaca, according to the Ithaca Police Department. Heffner allegedly wrote herself $3,100 in checks from the school’s account.

Heffner has been charged with felonies of third-degree grand larceny, two counts of falsifying business records and two counts of forgery.

According to records available Friday in Tompkins County Court, Heffner allegedly created false checks for $1,300 and $1,800 and deposited them into her personal checking account in February 2018 and April 2017. At the time, Heffner was the business manager for New Roots Charter School, according to court documents.

Some of the fraud began to come to light in September 2018 during the annual financial audit, court records show. As that process was beginning, Heffner allegedly admitted that she had used the school’s debit card for an emergency veterinary bill payment for about $1,000 in July 2017 and had marked it as a payroll advance, but had not paid it back yet. Heffner resigned that October. After she resigned, court records state, a school official found evidence that she had authorized a check to herself for $390 and forged a signature.

The school official reviewed more checks after that and found four more checks with forged signatures, records state, including checks for $1,300 and $1,800 which were written to Heffner and entered into Quickbooks as payments to one of the school’s vendors.

She was arraigned in Ithaca City Court and released on her own recognizance.

“The Ithaca Police Department takes financial crimes very seriously. These types of crimes can have a devastating impact on small businesses. We encourage all of our community members to contact us if you believe that any crime is occurring within the City of Ithaca,” the IPD said in a news release.

(Update 11:40 a.m. Friday) — This story has been updated with additional information from court records filed in Tompkins County Court.

Kelsey O'Connor

Kelsey O'Connor is the managing editor for the Ithaca Voice. Questions? Story tips? Contact her at koconnor@ithacavoice.com and follow her on Twitter @bykelseyoconnor.