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Former Shelley High School principal pleads guilty to stealing money from school

Crime Watch

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Eric T. Lords during is change of plea hearing over Zoom.

SHELLEY — The former principal of Shelley High School pleaded guilty to felony grand theft Tuesday afternoon.

With the guilty plea, Eric T. Lords, 49, admits that while working as the principal he used school funds to make over $3,700 in personal purchases.

“I used a school’s credit card for personal use,” Lords said during the Zoom hearing.

Lords became principal at Shelley High School in 2016 and suddenly resigned from the position in 2018 following an audit, which found the school has mismanaged some funds. The investigation into Lords personal thefts became public in 2019.

As part of the plea agreement, Bingham County prosecutors and his defense attorney James Archibald will recommend Lords be placed on probation. The agreement is non-binding, meaning that a judge does not have to follow the sentencing recommendations and could still impose the maximum 14-year sentence for grand theft.

RELATED | Shelley High School principal suddenly resigns

Prior to the criminal charges being filed against him, Lords also faced disciplinary action from the Idaho Professional Standards Commission. They suspended his administrative certificate, but then allowed him to keep it after he agreed to pay back the money he stole.

RELATED | Former Shelley High School principal charged with felony grand theft

Lords’ purchases in 2017 included a water heater, a family season ski pass to Grand Targhee, ATV parts and more. Lords has since paid the $3,700 back to the school.

Sentencing for Lords is scheduled for March 29 before District Judge Darren Simpson.

Lords is not the only Shelly High School employee to face criminal theft charges in the past year. Cristy Jo Burton, 52, worked as the schools’ financial secretary and embezzled over $10,000 in 2018. Burton was ordered to serve 60-days in jail, followed by six years on probation. It is not clear if Lords and Burton knew about each other stealing funds from the school.

RELATED | Former school employee ordered to pay back over $10,000 she stole

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