Former Shakopee schools Superintendent Rod Thompson, accused of embezzling more than $70,000 in public funds, appeared in court Friday morning on new charges alleging that he illegally accessed and altered files on the school district’s Google Drive.
Thompson, 53, was charged last week in Scott County District Court with unauthorized computer access, a gross misdemeanor; misdemeanor computer damage, and two counts of misdemeanor computer theft.
He turned himself in to authorities June 25 and was released after posting $1,000 bail on condition that he not contact Shakopee school district officials.
“He denies doing anything illegal,” said Thompson’s attorney, Peter Wold, following a brief court appearance Friday. Thompson did not submit a plea, and an omnibus hearing was set for Oct. 3 with Judge Caroline Lennon.
Thompson is already awaiting trial on 20 felony charges, including six counts of theft by swindle, 13 counts of embezzlement of public funds and one count of possession of stolen property, plus one misdemeanor count of receiving stolen property.
Authorities allege that over a six-year period, Thompson used several schemes to make hundreds of purchases on the district’s dime.
He resigned as superintendent last summer amid accusations that he had abused his school credit card. Spending reports showed that he had purchased sports memorabilia, first-class airfare, concert tickets and an Xbox system.
According to the latest complaint, school district officials in May discovered suspicious activity on the district’s password-protected Google Drive during a routine audit. They found that someone using an unsanctioned e-mail address — firstname.lastname@example.org — was viewing and, in some cases, downloading school files.
A search warrant helped investigators determine that the recovery e-mail address for the account email@example.com and the associated phone number were registered to Thompson. He had maintained that e-mail address since 2012.
Over a period of several months, Thompson viewed and downloaded multiple files from the drive, according to the complaint.
In at least one case, he opened a file with student information such as names, ethnicity, gender and student ID numbers.
The district last week issued a statement assuring parents that the file with student information didn’t contain data that could be used to steal their identities.
“We are actively exploring options to increase our ability to analyze staff use of Google Drive and improve the security of our processes,” the district said on its website.