GRAND HAVEN AREA PUBLIC SCHOOLS
Embezzlement update—Grand Haven schools
Published April 29, 2023
Written by Madison
Photography by Simply American
Over $1 million was embezzled from Grand Haven Area Public Schools (GHAPS). The money has not been found.
Now GHAPS is asking taxpayers to fund a $155 million bond proposal.
On November 23, 2021, Assistant Superintendent Brian Wheeler was arrested for embezzlement of over $100 thousand from GHAPS and using computers to commit a crime.
The following week it was revealed that Wheeler stole over $1 million.
Two months later he was found unresponsive and died while in custody at the Ottawa County Jail.
November 4, 2021: Embezzlement discovered
November 5, 2021: Wheeler placed on administrative leave
November 5–22, 2021: Wheeler fails to attend multiple investigator interviews
November 22, 2021: Wheeler’s employment is terminated
November 23, 2021: Wheeler arrested
January 24, 2022: Wheeler pleads no contest
January 27, 2022: Wheeler dies in custody
Forensic Audit Not Released To Public
GHAPS school district officials did an internal investigation and hired a consulting firm, Plante Moran, to perform a forensic audit of the district finances.
In August 2022, local media published stories alluding to a press release sent out by GHAPS. One report quoted GHAPS Board of Education President Carl Treutler as saying, “Plante Moran concluded that no other district employees at any level were involved in this scheme.”
The reports also indicated GHAPS would be tightening their financial procedures to ensure this could not happen again. As of this writing, the forensic audit has not been released to the public. The district states that this is due to an ongoing legal case and the report is protected by attorney-client privilege, even though the Grand Haven taxpayers paid for the audit.
Director of Business and Finance, Lyndsey Fleser, credited with discovering the embezzlement, and Superintendent Andy Ingall both resigned in December 2021. Superintendent Ingall was replaced by Assistant Superintendent Scott Grimes.
No Money Has Been Recovered
As of March 2023, no money has been recovered from the Wheeler estate, and no assets have been located. The Wheeler estate probate case in Muskegon County remains the only open case connected to the embezzlement.
GHAPS is asking taxpayers to fund a $155 million bond proposal.
Taxpayers would benefit by the release of the forensic audit prior to voting on the bond proposal.
Without the release of the forensic audit, should taxpayers trust GHAPS to be good stewards of tax dollars?