Dexter Community Schools district officials expressed relief this week that former district tech chief Brian Tungl was throwing in the towel and entering into a plea deal with Washtenaw County prosecutors.
Tungl was effectively drummed out of his position in 2014 after internal investigations into falsified records and missing equipment intensified and his efforts to conceal his actions could no longer keep up with the joint efforts of the Washtenaw County Sheriff’s Office and DCS administrators.
The disgraced Dexter schools IT figure pleaded no contest to embezzling more than $50,000 worth of equipment from his employer, although he had faced embezzling up to $100,000 or more and additional charges of unauthorized access to computers.
The guideline for penalties in the state of Michigan for embezzling more than $50,000 but less than $100,000 is a fine of up to $25,000 or three times the amount embezzled (the greater of the two), up to 15 years in prison, or both.
Had the prosecutor’s office not made the deal and taken Tungl to trial, he would have faced twice the fines and up to 20 years in prison, or both.
DCS Superintendent Chris Timmis has been giving regular reports at Board of Education meetings whenever a development in the Tungl court case would come up, often expressing frustration at the prospect of a long, drawn-out trial.
He echoed his frustration to MLive earlier this week.
“He intentionally misled and manipulated his way through our internal controls, used his position to continuously alter internal records and abused the taxpayers,” Timmis told MLive’s Lindsay Knake. “His methods for covering up his crime were extensive and illusive. We are hopeful that our community will see the justice they deserve for his crimes.”
In addition to necessitating a $300,000 insurance claim, Tungl’s efforts had a number of very negative consequences for the children of Dexter’s families.
“Community members should feel welcome attending the sentencing hearing,” DCS Board of Education Trustee Barbara Read said on social media this week, adding that Tungl stole from the public by stealing from the schools.
She attributed the significant delays in the deployment of iPads at Bates and Cornerstone to Tungl’s actions.
“I know parents were frustrated with that, and we could not discuss the investigation, but our tech (department) was stuck digging out the crooked trail of this guy,” she explained. “Ditto on the website delay and regular tech support for our teachers and staff. Now you know where the resources were going and why our other needs had to wait. I think the fine toothed inventory also caused concern among staff members wondering what was going on and that is a shame. It was just one guy causing all the trouble and delays and losses.”
Read added that Tungl had gone so far as to hang a flatscreen television stolen from the district in his living room, which he presumably sat around with his family in the evenings having quality time.
That and many other stolen items were paid for by the $47.8 million bond that voters passed in 2008 to help the district meet a long list of facility and other capital needs, including technology upgrades managed by Tungl during his tenure.
For more details on the history of Tungl’s wrongdoing, which began almost immediately upon his employment with the district in 2011 and for details on more tech gadgets that he embezzled from Dexter’s schools and doled out to family, friends, and his church see the MLive report.
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