Former Wilkinsburg school official held for court on theft charge

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The former director of an after-school program at Wilkinsburg Middle School, who is accused of stealing a 3-D printer and other equipment, was ordered to face trial on a theft charge although he made restitution.

In the courtroom of District Judge Kim Hoots in Wilkinsburg, prosecutor Bob Heister said the district attorney's office had decided that the case against Christopher Spradley, 31, of Lincoln-Lemington should proceed.

"Our victim indirectly is the Wilkinsburg School District, probably the most distressed district in Pennsylvania. I have a duty of care," Mr. Heister told the court.

Mr. Spradley's arraignment has been set for 10 a.m. May 2.

The case arose after Mr. Spradley allegedly tried to sell a 3-D printer valued at $3,200 at a pawn shop. The printer was purchased for the 21st Century Career program at Wilkinsburg Middle School, which is run in partnership with the Consortium for Public Education. Two laptop computers and two Xbox gaming systems also were discovered missing.

The printer was recovered, and teacher training on it recently began.

The suspect's attorney, Mike Worgul, told the judge that full restitution has been made for the items and the consortium was "given what they asked for."

Mr. Worgul said the single felony count of theft by unlawful taking covers all of the equipment involved.

No testimony was taken, although both consortium executive director Linda Croushore and Wilkinsburg school superintendent Lee McFerren were present.

Outside of court, Ms. Croushore said that Mr. Spradley had made full restitution, including for the laptops and gaming systems. Some of the restitution was made in gift cards, enabling the items to be repurchased. The final $200 was paid in cash to Ms. Croushore before the hearing.

Ms. Croushore wanted to end the case because full restitution was made, but Mr. Heister told the court, "While the consortium took it on the nose, the kids are the ones who paid the price."

After the hearing, Ms. Croushore said she was disappointed.

"We'd like it to be done," she said.

Mr. McFerren said, "It's most important that the items have been returned and now the students will be able to use them as originally planned."


Education writer Eleanor Chute: echute@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1955. First Published March 13, 2014 1:37 PM

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