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Former Willis ISD employee among 3 indicted for stealing from district's Parent Support Center

ABC 13 Houston logo ABC 13 Houston 4/23/2021 KTRK
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A former Willis ISD employee is among the three people who have been indicted after authorities said they stole from Willis ISD's Parent Support Center - a center that helps struggling families with food, clothes and other necessities.

The Montgomery County Precinct 1 Constable's office said it started looking into a tip from the Montgomery County Crime Stoppers about a series of thefts at the district's Parent Support Center (PSC), which is located at 606 North Campbell Street.

The parent center, which had been in operation for 17 years, was closed in September 2020 due to concerns within the district.

During the six-month investigation, authorities reviewed surveillance video of the area which showed that the suspects would arrive at the center and load trucks with donated items. Precinct 1 said this would sometimes happen within a couple of hours of the food bank making its delivery. They found the suspects took the items from the center, mostly in broad daylight, out of the front door.

Investigators learned the suspects were selling items donated from the community and non-profits, including the Montgomery County Food Bank, at flea markets. According to investigators, they believe the series of thefts began slowly but escalated throughout the time they were investigating.

The suspects arrested in the case have been identified as 73-year-old Teresa Joyce Herod, 50-year-old Samuel Anthony Saldana, and 42-year-old Christopher Paul Walker. All three were arrested and taken to the Montgomery County jail, where they were each given a $10,000 bond.

Herod was employed by Willis ISD for 17 years since the center started.

Constable Philip Cash said Herod admitted that the amount of cosmetics they took from the PSC could fill up two 18-wheelers.

He said towards the end, about 75% of what was being ordered for families in need was being taken by the suspects.

ABC13 reached out to Willis ISD for a statement, in which the district confirmed Herod had been terminated from the district in August 2020 for personnel issues.

"We are deeply troubled to learn of the charges filed against a former employee of the school district's parent support center. We can confirm that Teresa Herod was terminated in August 2020. As this is a personnel issue, we cannot release any additional information. However, we are thrilled to announce the launch of the Wildkat Resource Center (WRC), a new and re-imagined center that will serve as a free resource for Willis ISD students and families to obtain shoes, underwear, socks, coats, school supplies, clothing and personal hygiene items. We understand the importance of supporting our school families. Parents in need of assistance should reach out to their child's school counselor for more information on accessing the services provided by the district."

The Montgomery County Food Bank also released the following statement:

"We are very grateful to the Constable's office for its work in stopping this criminal scheme. It is very disappointing to think that a few bad actors would attempt to profit illegally from our community's generosity. Thankfully, the theft was limited to mostly non-food items, and it has not in any way impacted our ability to provide healthy meals to food-insecure people in Montgomery County."

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