Onetime Rockford school chief stole $42K-plus using district credit card

Christel Deskins

The onetime Rockford public school superintendent has been charged with embezzlement after authorities say he spent more than $42,000 on a work credit card over roughly a 20-month period on electronics and other items until shortly before he resigned. Load Error Paul Durand, 63, was charged Friday in Wright County […]

The onetime Rockford public school superintendent has been charged with embezzlement after authorities say he spent more than $42,000 on a work credit card over roughly a 20-month period on electronics and other items until shortly before he resigned.

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Paul Durand, 63, was charged Friday in Wright County District Court with 11 felony counts of embezzlement of public funds that span from February 2018 until October 2019. Durand was also charged with three counts of theft by swindle.

After leading the district since 2010, Durand and the school board reached a “separation agreement” on Nov. 18 that led to his resignation.

School administrators have yet to disclose the reason for his departure nor details of the agreement.

Durand was charged by summons and is scheduled to appear in court on Oct. 4. Messages were left with him Tuesday seeking a response to the allegations.

According to the criminal complaint:

An annual audit of district finances revealed that Durand used his work credit card to make many unauthorized purchases. They included two Apple Watches, a laptop computer, home security equipment, a vehicle dash camera, an underwater camera, a Fitbit fitness monitor and more than $3,800 in gasoline purchases that should have been covered by his $650 monthly vehicle stipend.

Durand was interviewed by a sheriff’s detective in January and declined to answer questions about the investigation other than to identify the location of many of the apparently personal items purchased with the district-issued credit card.

He said 52 of them were at his home, six were in his son’s possession, 45 were in the district office and 68 were either discarded or unable to be located.

Durand was succeeded as the head of the nearly 1,700-student district by Rhonda Dean, who at the time was Rockford High School’s principal.

Paul Walsh • 612-673-4482

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