Former Gretna City Administrator Colleen Lawry is facing new allegations of financial impropriety.
Sarpy County prosecutor Stephanie Hansen charged Lawry on Thursday with a felony theft by deception charge and official misconduct, a misdemeanor.
Hansen said Lawry allegedly received more than $3,000 in overpayments for educational reimbursements from the City of Gretna while attending Bellevue University.
“She got money that she should not have gotten,” Hansen said. “We believe she got money that was not part of the approved educational expenses.”
Lawry had taken out an education loan for master’s degree coursework, Hansen said.
The official misconduct charge was filed, Hansen said, because Lawry “knowingly violated the theft statute” in her capacity as city administrator.
Lawry, 49, was fired in April and charged with felony theft after allegedly misusing nearly $1,000 from a Gretna senior citizens fund.
The earlier theft charge was filed after prosecutors said she made purchases at several stores, including Victoria’s Secret and a liquor store. That charge carries up to five years in prison upon conviction.
State Auditor Mike Foley also determined that Lawry spent more than $800 in city funds on clothing she classified as “uniforms,” even though she wore business clothes on the job.
Lawry’s attorney, Mike Munch, did not respond to a message left Thursday seeking comment.
The felony theft by deception charge carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison.
The official misconduct charge carries a maximum penalty of six months in jail, Hansen said.
Gretna’s education reimbursement policy allowed officials to be reimbursed for 50 percent of their tuition-related costs for continuing education, Gretna City Attorney John Green said.
City officials have determined they did not receive supporting documentation from Lawry itemizing her actual education expenditures for Bellevue University, he said.
Green said Gretna won’t pay Lawry any severance and has no plans to make any payment for Lawry’s unused vacation days. He said the city will count the cost of Lawry’s outlet-mall trips and “uniform” purchases against the 100 hours of time she would be owed.
As The World-Herald reported last month, Lawry and then-Bellevue Police Chief John Stacey used public funds on four trips to the same cities. Gretna officials have said they were unable to verify the explanations provided by Lawry for her trips. Bellevue authorities have said Stacey’s travel expenses to attend national police and fire conferences appeared legitimate.
In May, Lawry and Stacey each were charged with a misdemeanor gun charge. Stacey has acknowledged he loaned a handgun to Lawry but has denied wrongdoing.
Under state law, a person cannot sell, lease, rent or transfer a handgun to someone without a certificate, except under certain circumstances. A special judge will hear oral arguments next month on Stacey’s motion to dismiss his handgun charge.
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