Authorities in Florida say an elementary school principal stole hundreds of dollars from a mentally disabled boy whose parents’ money had been locked away in the suspect’s office.
According to the New York Post, 50-year-old Edward John Abernathy was arrested this week on suspicion of grand theft.
Police say teachers at Connerton Elementary School in Land O’ Lakes realized the 9-year-old boy had brought $2,100 to school with him one day last month.
Staff reportedly took the money from him and placed it in the principal’s office, ostensibly for safe keeping.
Instead, when the boy’s parents came to school several days later, they say they received just $1,200.
The Pasco County Sheriff’s Office reported that Abernathy, who has worked for the local school district for more than 25 years, was arrested on Thursday.
A statement from Pasco County Schools indicates he has since been placed on paid administrative leave.
District spokesman Trevor Roppolo told the Post that he had just received the news, adding that administrators were “disappointed and shocked” to hear about the allegations.
“It’s quite the way to end the week,” he said.
Investigators say Abernathy’s story changed multiple times as he attempted to explain the missing money.
At one point during questioning, he reportedly told police that the student could have taken it. He did acknowledge, however, that it would have been “a bit of a reach” for the young child to reach the elevated location where the money was being kept.
According to the Tampa Bay Times, he was booked into Land O’ Lakes Detention Center and released after posting $2,000 bail.
[Featured image: Edward John Abernathy, Pasco County Sheriffs Office]