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FORMER ESTES SCHOOL CHIEF INDICTED ON THEFT CHARGES

FORMER ESTES SCHOOL CHIEF INDICTED ON THEFT CHARGES
 
Rocky Mountain News (CO) – Friday, August 6, 2004
Author/Byline: Clayton Woullard , Rocky Mountain News
Edition: Final
Section: News
Page: 38A
A former Estes Park school superintendent was indicted this week for allegedly stealing thousands of dollars from the Park School District R-3 for personal purchases.

Richard Kastendieck, 52, was indicted on three counts of theft, one count of felony embezzlement of public property, one count of felony forgery and a misdemeanor count of first-degree official misconduct.

He surrendered to Loveland police Wednesday night and was released on $100,000 bail.

The Larimer County grand jury said Kastendieck funneled more than $60,000 from the Park School District general fund into a Park School District continuing education savings account from Oct. 20, 1998, until his retirement in late December 2003.

He withdrew money from the continuing education account to buy items such as an RV and trailer, worth $28,436, the grand jury said, and allegedly used a school credit card for trips to New York, Oklahoma and San Francisco. He also is accused of purchasing weight-loss programs, stereo speakers and other items not related to school business.Barb Wahl, 55, served on the school district’s board of education from 1995 until February 2002, when she said she resigned in disgust.

She said Kastendieck was one reason.

“He and I were at odds most of the time,” Wahl said. “Most of it was over personnel issues . . . it was a very ugly relationships at times.

“He was very harsh,” she said. “People who questioned him, their lives were miserable.”

She also said Kastendieck would hire people she felt were unqualified to be teachers.

Larry Pesses, president of the board of education, said Kastendieck was “a very polarizing individual. He was one of those guys that people had very strong opinions about, one way or the other.”

Pesses said the board noticed certain accounting and administrative irregularities early this year and reported them to the Larimer County district attorney’s office.

“I was surprised at the magnitude of the improprieties,” he said. “A reasonable person doesn’t have an expectation that a person who works with children would do something like this, particularly in a leadership role.”

Wahl also said she was surprised at the extent of Kastendieck’s alleged actions, but says she’s somewhat satisfied he’s been charged.

“I feel like I’m vindicated,” she said.

Kastendieck’s next court appearance is set for Wednesday at the Larimer County Justice Center in Fort Collins.

INFOBOX

Where money went

Items purchased allegedly with Park School District funds

* Trailer and motor home……$28,436.32

* Trips to New York with family……$1,143.47

* Trips to Oklahoma and airfare to San Francisco from 1997-2002……$999

* Sewing machine……$2,000

* Other personal items purchased: weight-loss programs and stereo speakers

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