Calif. accountant accused of making off with $2M in school lunch money

Former school district accountant Judith Oakes worked 25 years for the Rialto, Calif. school system. KCBS/KCAL

RIALTO, Calif. A former school district accountant allegedly made off with more than $2 million in lunch money, according to officials in Rialto.

KCAL9's Crystal Cruz reports Judith Oakes made around $60,000 a year working for the Rialto school system.

Former school district accountant Judith Oakes worked 25 years for the Rialto, Calif. school system.
KCBS/KCAL

However, police are now accusing her of making a lot more than that illegally -- possibly as much as $3 million.

Oakes, 48, spent 25 years with the district as an accountant.

She resigned recently after being accused of stealing student lunch money.

"I could not believe it. I still can not believe it," said a neighbor.

Cruz knocked on Oakes' door Thursday evening, but no one answered.

However, a neighbor told Cruz, the Oakes she knew would never steal.

"She's good people. I really don't have nothing bad to say about her," said the neighbor.

Police suspect Oakes has been stealing money for the past seven years.

Investigators say they have video evidence, but the footage hasn't been released, according to Capt. Randy De Anda. When Oakes was arrested, it was widely reported police had video of her allegedly stuffing money into her bra on at least two occasions.

"Obviously she had access to large sums of money and she was able to possess those large sums of money and get them out of the building," De Anda said.

When Oakes was arrested in August, police said they found thousands of dollars in her possession they suspected was stolen.

The DA's office isn't commenting because the case is pending. Charges have not yet been filed.

According to De Anda, this is the largest white-collar crime the Rialto Police Department has investigated. He also pointed out that the money belonged to the children.

The District's Superintendent released a statement that read in part: "The district is continuing to work closely with law enforcement to make sure that those criminally responsible are identified and prosecuted. We are taking all appropriate steps to recover the lost funds."

Several agencies, including the federal government, are investigating because Oakes had access to federal school funds.

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