Wednesday, November 17, 1999

Former librarian
will repay school

By Debra Barayuga


A former Manoa School librarian accused of stealing more than $7,000 that would have been used to buy books and make library computers Y2K compliant will make full restitution and write letters of apology.

Teresa Rene Britt, 39, yesterday apologized in court to the elementary school and said she is sincere about repaying the money she took from November 1996 to June 1998.

"This behavior is out of character for me," Britt said, adding she was battling depression at the time. "My only wish is to make things as right as I can for everyone involved."

Britt was indicted in September on 28 counts, including second- and third-degree theft and second-degree forgery. The state agreed to drop all but one count of second-degree theft and one count of second-degree forgery in exchange for her guilty plea and full restitution. Britt faced at least five years' imprisonment and a $10,000 fine on each count.

Deputy public defender Jack Tonaki said his client has no criminal history and was not using her battle with depression as an excuse. When Britt learned of the indictment against her, she flew back from Arizona at her expense to resolve the situation and fully cooperated with an investigation, Tonaki said.

Britt has been treated and hospitalized for her depression and now feels it is under control. She is working in Arizona and is confident she can make full restitution, Tonaki said.

Circuit Judge Richard Perkins granted the defense's request for a deferred acceptance of her guilty plea for a period of five years. Given her clean record and what she has since done to clean up her life, Perkins found she was not likely to engage in criminal conduct again.

But the judge granted the state's request and ordered Britt to repay the school $7,620, perform 150 hours of community service and write a letter of apology to Manoa School students. The conviction will be erased from her record if she stays out of trouble for the next five years.

School officials said the thefts occurred within a month of Britt arriving at Manoa School. A parent with an accounting background noticed irregularities and notified school officials, triggering an investigation, Deputy Attorney General Rick Damerville said.

Britt began taking $50 at a time but the amounts steadily became larger, Damerville said. In one case, Britt submitted a legitimate request for a $260 VCR, had it signed by the principal, and before going to the bank to withdraw the funds, put a "1" in front of the $260.

Manoa Principal Victoria Bannan said the school was devastated over the loss of the funds, raised from book sales and fairs. "I hope it doesn't happen anywhere again," said Bannan. "It's that loss of trust -- that's what's really hard."

The school took immediate action after learning of the thefts, Bannan said. While procedures were in place requiring two people present when money is counted, Bannan said the school will make sure they are followed.

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