Jury rules in favor of woman accused of stealing from GISD - ABC 12 – WJRT – Flint, MI

Jury rules in favor of woman accused of stealing from GISD

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GENESEE COUNTY (WJRT) -

(03/13/14) - A jury ruled in favor of a woman accused of stealing from the Genesee Intermediate School District.

It's a story we've been following for more than a year and a half.

The GISD must now pay more than $1 million to former assistant superintendent Beverly Knox-Pipes.

Knox-Pipes was fired by the district, accused of stealing money to cover up an affair with her boss - but that's not her side of the story.

The district accused Knox-Pipes of misusing more than $87,000 in taxpayer money to help cover up an affair with retired superintendent Tom Svitkovich.

Knox-Pipes says that's not the case. She says the district fired her to prevent her from testifying in a lawsuit with the Clio School District over the GenNET program.

She sued the GISD.

Wednesday afternoon, the jury ruled in favor of Knox-Pipes, ordering the district to pay her more than $1 million.

"She's on cloud 9. She broke down in tears of joy. She's vindicated, totally vindicated by this," said Tom Pabst, Knox-Pipes' attorney.

If you break it down, that's $760,000 for violating the Whistleblower Protection Act, which protects employees from being punished for participating in investigations. The district must pay $320,000 for breaking her contract - and $130,000 in attorney fees.

"There were a lot of details that clearly demonstrate her callous disregard for our policy and misuse of taxpayer funds," said Jerry Johnson, GISD spokesperson. "The bottom line is we did what we think is right. Our taxpayers would've expected that from us. We're not going to stop here, we will appeal. We still feel we are fully justified."

Pabst calls the audit and the firing part a witchhunt.

"She professionally and personally destroyed Bev to cover up her own unlawful conduct," Pabst said, referring to current superintendent Lisa Hagel. "She tried to smear and she did smear."

The district says there was more than enough evidence to support the decision to fire Knox-Pipes.

"This has been a long, disappointing journey with a lot of unfortunate circumstances and quite frankly it was a gut-wrenching episode in our organization's history," Johnson said.

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