Former Phoenixville Schools Business Manager Charged
PHOENIXVILLE PA – The former business manager and director of finance for the Phoenixville Area School District is being charged by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Eastern District of Philadelphia with allegedly embezzling more than $90,000 in school funds, some of which had been paid by the federal government.
Christopher Gehris, 46, of Phoenixville, is charged with “one count of embezzlement from a program receiving federal funds,” according to a Tuesday (Nov. 30, 2021) announcement by United States Attorney Jennifer Arbittier Williams. If convicted, he faces a maximum possible sentence of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
Williams’ statement described a scheme in which Gehris allegedly “misappropriated funds from (district) 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, Williams added, the district received federal funds for school programming.
Gehris held his positions from November 2013 until July 2019, when he resigned after the district was alerted to what were called “possible discrepancies” in financial records. The case was investigated by the FBI and the Phoenixville Police Department.
“In exploiting the trust the Phoenixville Area School District placed in him, Gehris stole from children and deprived them of meaningful educational experiences,” according to Jacqueline Maguire, Special Agent-in-Charge of the FBI’s Philadelphia Division. The agency “will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to protect government-funded programs and investigate those who engage in similar greed-based schemes,” she added.
The case is scheduled to be prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Terri A. Marinari and the Chester County District Attorney’s Office. Chester County District Attorney Deb Ryan praised the U.S. Attorney’s Office for holding Gehris “accountable for stealing from the coffers of the Phoenixville School District, students, parents, and taxpayers.”