Former Shelley High principal pleads guilty to grand theft

Former Shelley High School principal Eric Lords has pleaded guilty to a felony grand theft charge.

Eric Lords

“I used a school’s credit card for personal use,” Lords, 49, told Bingham County District Judge Darren Simpson during a remote pre-sentence hearing Tuesday.

Lords abruptly resigned as principal in 2018 and later admitted to using the school’s credit card to make a range of personal purchases totaling over $3,700.

In June, the Idaho Professional Standards Commission suspended Lords’ administrative certificate. The commission allowed Lords to keep his Idaho teaching certificate after he agreed to repay the money.

Lords does not have a teaching or administrative assignment for 2020-21, according to records reviewed by Idaho EdNews, though his administrative license is now valid in Idaho.

Lords has since fully repaid the money, his attorney, James Archibald, told Simpson Tuesday afternoon.

Lords’ guilty plea was part of a non-binding agreement in which Archibald and a Bingham County prosecutor will recommend probation for Lords at sentencing. Despite the agreement, Lords could receive up to a maximum 14-year prison sentence for the crime.

Lords’ sentencing is set for March 29 at 2:30 p.m.

Last month, Simpson ordered another former Shelley High School employee, Cristy Jo Burton, to serve 60 days in jail and pay back $10,891.46 that she stole from the district in 2018, court records show.

Burton, who worked with Lords at Shelley High, faced four counts of grand theft after police discovered checks written to her personal account.

Burton agreed to plead guilty to two felony grand theft charges. In exchange, prosecutors dropped two other counts of the same charge and recommended probation.

Devin Bodkin

About Devin Bodkin

Reporter Devin Bodkin covers education issues in East Idaho. He is a former high school English teacher who specializes in stories about charter schools and educating students who live in poverty. He is a 2019 Solutions Journalism Network fellow and the Idaho Press Club's 2019 print reporter of the year. Follow Devin on Twitter @dsbodkin. He can be reached by email at [email protected].

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