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School district business manager pleads to stealing $275K

MINNEAPOLIS -- The business manager for the Chokio-Alberta School District pleaded guilty Friday to stealing approximately $275,000 from the district, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office in Minneapolis.

Liane Claassen, 43, of Chokio, pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud.

She was charged on May 2 and entered her plea before United States District Court Judge John R. Tunheim.

Claassen admitted that she used the district's computer to pay herself more money than her salary allowed during the period July of 1999 through August of 2010.

As the district's business manager, Claassen was responsible for payroll for all district employees and was entrusted to authorize bank transfers. Claassen also admitted that she illegally transferred money into her retirement account and covered up her scheme by making misrepresentations to her employers regarding the district's financial condition.

Claassen faces a potential maximum penalty of 20 years in prison. Tunheim will determine her sentence at a future hearing, yet to be scheduled.

This case is the result of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. It is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Christian S. Wilton.