Former Shelley High principal charged with felony grand theft

SHELLEY — Authorities have charged former Shelley High School principal Eric Lords with felony grand theft.

Eric Lords

Lords, who was stripped of his administrative certificate after the Professional Standards Commission found he used school funds for over $3,700 in personal purchases, now faces the criminal charge for those same transactions — and possibly more, according to records obtained by Idaho Education News.

A probable cause statement, dated May 20, outlines purchases Lords made with the school’s debit card during his time as principal:

  • A family ski pass to Grand Targhee Ski Resort for $2,049.
  • Chrome ATV pipes for $689.99.
  • A 50-gallon water heater for $361.81.
  • Powder coating services for $319.77.
  • Lawn care services for $289.

Lords admitted to making the purchases and paid back $3,720, according to a stipulation agreement between the former principal and the PSC dated April 19, 2019.

The probable cause statement notes the admission and repayment but adds that “several other purchases made for items that seem to belong to Lords and not the school” appeared on records police examined with a forensic financial investigator. “The full extent of Lords’ misuse of the debit card is not completely evident from the records reviewed,” and “numerous expenses” lack receipts to verify purchases, according to the statement.

Lords was initially “elusive” and provided “conflicting stories” when confronted about the purchases by administrators at the district, the document also notes, referencing a statement submitted to police by then Shelley Superintendent Bryan Jolley. Lords later admitted to making the purchases and that he “had intended to reimburse the school and never took care of it.”

In June 2019, the PSC allowed Lords to keep his Idaho teaching certificate, though he did not have a teaching assignment for 2019-20, according to records reviewed by Idaho Education News.

Bingham County Prosecutor Paul Rogers told EdNews in May that Lords would face a grand theft charge, and that authorities were waiting on the probable cause statement. The charge appeared on the state’s online court portal Monday.

Another former employee, Cristy Jo Burton, who worked with Lords at the school, faces four counts of the same crime.

Lords is scheduled to appear at the Bingham County Courthouse on July 30 at 8:30 a.m.

Idaho Education News data analyst Randy Schrader contributed to this report. 

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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