Smithfield woman charged with embezzlement

Published 10:25 pm Thursday, February 6, 2014

By Stephen H. Cowles

Special to the News-Herald

A Smithfield woman who once led the Isle of Wight County Education Association was arrested Monday on a charge of embezzling $43,248.48 from the local organization’s account.

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“Stephanie Bailey brought herself in,” said Smithfield Police Department’s Lt. Patrick Valdez about the event that day.

He said that John O’Neil, director of communications for the Virginia Education Association, had contacted the Smithfield police, which followed up with an investigation.

“Her claim was she gave the money to the homeless and students in need,” said Valdez. That money came from dues that Bailey had been collecting, he added.

“But she won’t give any names. I think that’s going to be the crux. She was unable to answer satisfactorily. Had she receipts … but she’s unable to account for any of it.”

Bailey, who served as president of the Isle of Wight Education Association from 2006 until August 2013, was released on her own recognizance.

Elizabeth Stahlman, of the Suffolk Magistrate’s Office 5th Judicial District, explained that means a person signs a document swearing she or he will appear in court on an appointed day.

An arraignment for Bailey is scheduled for 8:30 a.m. Thursday, Feb. 13, in Isle of Wight County General District Court.

O’Neil emailed a press statement in response to questions from The Tidewater News.

“We have learned that Smithfield police recently arrested Stephanie Bailey, a former officer of the Isle of Wight Education Association, on charges that she misappropriated Association funds.

“We consider the charges to be very serious. The VEA initiated an internal inquiry last fall that led to the subsequent investigation by the Smithfield Police Department. We have fully cooperated with their investigation. Any further action will be determined by the prosecutor’s office.

“VEA will continue to work with the local Association to ensure that its assets are protected, and we anticipate reimbursement of funds from our insurance carrier. No school or tax dollars are involved.

“All Association members in Isle of Wight should know that they will continue to receive all of the member services they rely upon, such as advocacy and representation, professional training, and more.

“At present, we can have no further comment on the issue.”

The county school system also had limited reaction.

“The Isle of Wight County School division has no involvement in this situation,” said spokeswoman Kenita Bowers. “Due to state code and school division policy, we are unable to comment on this matter.”

Bowers did confirm that Bailey had been a school nurse at Windsor High School, and was working as such when the arrest occurred. She’s no longer an employee.

Randi Kayes, president of an unrelated organization called the Education Foundation for Isle of Wight Public Schools, sought to distance the two organizations on Thursday. The Education Foundation for Isle of Wight Public Schools raises funds through its Students First Auction and Dinner every October and distributes grants to teachers to enhance learning in the classroom.