PHOENIXVILLE PA – The former business manager and chief financial officer for the Phoenixville area school district is charged by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Eastern District of Philadelphia for allegedly embezzling more than $90,000 in school funds, some of which had been paid for by the federal government.
Christopher Gehris, 46, of Phoenixville, is charged with “one count of embezzlement from a program receiving federal funds,” according to a Tuesday, November 30, 2021 announcement by American lawyer Jennifer Arbittier Williams. If found guilty, he faces a maximum possible sentence of 10 years in prison and a fine of $250,000.
Williams’ statement describes a scheme in which Gehris allegedly “diverted funds from (district) bank accounts, directed unauthorized payments to himself, made false entries and fabricated receipts, all with the intent of diverting more $90,000 in school funds for student sporting events. , field trips, summer programs and other school events.
During the years during the indicted conduct, Williams added, the district received federal funds for school programming.
Gehris held his positions from November 2013 until July 2019, when he resigned after the district was alerted to what were called “possible discrepancies” in financial records. The case was investigated by the FBI and the Phoenixville Police Department.
“By exploiting the trust placed in him by the Phoenixville-area school district, Gehris stole children and deprived them of meaningful educational experiences,” according to Jacqueline Maguire, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Philadelphia Division. The agency “will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to protect government-funded programs and investigate those who engage in similar greed-based schemes,” she added.
The case is expected to be prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Terri A. Marinari and the Chester County Attorney’s Office. Chester County District Attorney Deb Ryan praised the U.S. Attorney’s Office for holding Gehris “accountable for stealing from the coffers of the Phoenixville School District, students, parents and taxpayers.”