PHILADELPHIA, PA — United States Attorney Jennifer Arbittier Williams announced that Christopher Gehris, 46, of Phoenixville, PA, was charged by Information with one count of embezzlement from a program receiving federal funds.
According to the Information, from November 2013 until July 2019, the defendant was the Director of Finance/Business Manager of the Phoenixville Area School District (PASD). The Information alleges that Gehris misappropriated funds from PASD bank accounts, directed unauthorized payments to himself, made false entries, and fabricated receipts, all in order to embezzle more than $90,000 in school funds earmarked for student sporting events, field trips, summer programs and other school events. For the years during the charged conduct, the PASD received federal funds for school programming.
“The defendant allegedly stole nearly $100,000 from a public school district, money which was specifically allocated for student activities meant to enhance their educational experience,” said U. S. Attorney Williams. “Criminals that embezzle public money from schools are ripping off hundreds of students while also ripping off all taxpayers who fund them.”
“The FBI is committed to bringing justice to those, like Gehris, who dare to steal from programs funded with taxpayer dollars,” said Jacqueline Maguire, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Philadelphia Division. “In exploiting the trust the Phoenixville Area School District placed in him, Gehris stole from children and deprived them of meaningful educational experiences. The FBI will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to protect government-funded programs and investigate those who engage in similar greed-based schemes.”
“Thank you to the United States Attorney’s Office for bringing these charges against Christopher Gehris and holding him accountable for stealing from the coffers of the Phoenixville School District, students, parents, and taxpayers,” said Chester County District Attorney Deb Ryan. “It is a clear violation of trust for a school leader to take advantage of his position to the detriment of those children he is supposed to serve. Our children deserve better.”
If convicted, the defendant faces a maximum possible sentence of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
The case was investigated by Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Phoenixville Police Department and is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Terri A. Marinari and the Chester County District Attorney’s Office.