Debra Kay Thomas, a teacher at Whittier Elementary School in Great Falls, has been placed on administrative leave after being charged with forgery and theft of identity.
According to the Whittier Elementary School website, Thomas is a sixth-grade teacher.
Great Falls Public Schools superintendent Tammy Lacey said in a press release on Friday that the district was notified on Thursday that Thomas had been arrested and charged, and immediately put her on administrative leave. On Friday, the District’s Human Resource Department began its own internal investigation into the matter. Lacey said Thomas will remain on leave until the investigation is concluded and appropriate action is determined.
Lacey said that if the allegations are true, the "charges are very concerning and certainly do not represent the conduct expected of any GFPS employee. The District will continue its efforts to impart to its employees the high ethical standards that are expected of them."
Court documents state that in July 2016, Thomas talked with the victim - identified in court documents as Jane Doe - about obtaining a $3,500 loan to assist Thomas in buying a home. Doe issued a check on a credit card account for $3,500, and Thomas was supposed to repay her.
Shortly after the loan was made, Thomas suggested to Doe that she (Thomas) just make the payments directly to the credit card company; Doe agreed. Thomas then asked for and obtained all of Doe's personal and account information.
Court documents state: "Doe, who has been friends with Thomas for 30 years, did not question Thomas when she requested her personal information." Doe believed that Thomas needed the information in order to make the credit card payments, and assumed that Thomas was making the payments toward the $3,500 loan.
As time went on, Doe stopped receiving the credit card statements at her home, and in October 2016, Doe contacted the credit card company and found out that Thomas had charged thousands of dollars under a credit card that she (Thomas) had obtained from the company. The company told Doe that there were "many more charges" on the account in excess of the initial $3,500 loan.
Doe tried to contact Thomas to find out what was happening, but Thomas did not respond. Doe then contacted law enforcement officers, who obtained records from the accounts and a statement from Doe about the situation. Doe told police that at no time had she authorized Thomas to put her own name of Doe's account. Doe also told police that she no longer works, has medical issues, and is currently in serious financial hardship as she is responsible for paying on the account.
A Great Falls police officer contacted Thomas, who said that she was an authorized user on the account, and claimed that Doe had given her permission to add herself to the account, and that there had been no agreement on the repayment of the account. Thomas claimed that she was authorized, and in an email said that she never had the statement mailed directly to her.
However, the GFPD officer had documentation that Thomas did change the mailing address directly from the credit card company.
Court documents state that in December 2016, shortly after the statements were switched to Thomas' address, Thomas stopped making any payments on the account.
Thomas continued to make charges on the account, and as of January 2017, the balance was more than $8,265.
The court documents state: "Thomas ceased making any payments on the account and Doe is now faced with paying the account after Thomas falsely assumed her identity to add her name to the account, obtained a credit card in her name, and changed the mailing address to her residence in Great Falls. Doe attempted to contact Thomas about this and has been blocked on all efforts to make contact."