MIAMI (CBSMiami) — In his Miami-Dade Schools ID card photo, principal Joey Bautista is smiling broadly.
The 48-year-old had a much more somber expression, however, when he was arrested and photographed Wednesday, charged with stealing from the school system. Bautista was the principal of the adult school at Miami Jackson Senior High for 17 years.
He’s accused of hiring a woman, Adeline Joseph, as an education support specialist, but investigators say she never did any education support. Instead, she did personal chores for the principal at his home.
“She began to work as Mr. Bautista’s personal housekeeper and childcare attendant at his home while she continued to be paid by Dade County Public schools,” State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle said.
Bautista was found out, police say, in February, when a confidential informant at the school tipped them off about the ghost employee doing his work on the public’s dime.
“The alleged misuse of school funds to pay for childcare and housekeeping services is an absolute betrayal of trust,” Fernandez Rundle said.
Bautista’s accused of paying the woman about $42,000 to work in his home. She reportedly gave a full confession about the scheme, but she is not being charged.
“We probably needed her testimony. She clearly was complicit,” Fernandez Rundle said. She will testify against the now-fired principal accused of organized fraud and grand theft.
The Bautista case is not a first. In 2015, the principal of the North Miami Senior High adult program was charged with hiring ghost employees and taking kickbacks from them when they cashed their county paychecks. Jean Ridore is scheduled to stand trial in September.