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Prosecutor files charges against former superintendent Dr. Seawood

BERRIEN COUNTY, Mich. -

The Berrien County Prosecutor's Office has filed charges against Dr. Leonard Seawood, the former Benton Harbor Area Schools superintendent, for allegedly misappropriating school district funds.

Seawood has been charged with embezzlement and an alternative count of obtaining money by false pretenses.

Seawood was superintendent from July 2010 to October 2015 and the charges cover the time period from June 2012 to April 2015.

According to Seawood's contract, he was permitted a cash payout of a maximum of 5 unused vacation days a year. His contract gave him 25 vacation days per year.

Seawood allegedly was issued a cash payout for 45 extra days in 2012, 16 extra days in 2013, 9 extra days in 2014, and 5 extra days in 2015, according to the prosecutor's office.

The prosecutor's office says the extra day cash payouts amounted to approximately $45,000.

The investigation into Seawood began on May 1, 2015 after the Benton Harbor Area Schools Board of Education hired Rehmann Corporate Investigative Services to look into Seawood's activities, the report said.

As a result of that investigation, Michigan State Police began an investigation that resulted in charges.

Seawood was suspended by the board in April 2015 and his resignation was accepted by the board in October 2015.

Seawood was arraigned Thursday. His bond was set at $10,000 and was posted immediately.

His next court date is April 21.

Statement from School Board president Joseph Taylor:

The Board of Education of the Benton Harbor Area Schools District recently became aware of criminal charges being filed against former super Dr. Leonard Seawood. The charges are only allegations. Dr Leonard Seawood is presumed innocent unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. The board urges all members and district personnel against making any comments until all legal proceedings are completed. The district will continue to monitor the legal process and provide updates to the school community as they become available.

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