For more than five years, Sheryl Daniels and Rhoshonda Herring stole from their union without detection. Now they’re getting more than their share of unwanted attention. On August 2, the two women, respectively, former president and former treasurer of United Teachers of Suwannee County (UTSC), turned themselves in to the Sheriff’s Office of Suwannee County, Florida for arrest in the face of evidence that they had embezzled UTSC funds in excess of $50,000. Last Monday, September 9, Herring and Daniels each pleaded not guilty to one count of grand theft. The union is a joint affiliate of the National Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers.
The defendants have a tough road ahead if they take this to trial. Daniels, 56, and Herring, 39, each a resident of Live Oak, Fla., were public school teachers in Suwannee County, Florida, located in the northern part of the state between Jacksonville to the east and the panhandle to the west. Daniels had retired from teaching by the time of her arrest; Herring soon after her own arrest submitted a letter of resignation to the local school board, which the board accepted. There isn’t much purpose of sticking around. According to UTSC records, Herring and Daniels during January 2008-May 2013 wrote more than 150 unauthorized union checks. Herring wrote 32 checks to Daniels worth $12,234, while Daniels wrote Herring 109 checks worth $38,638. In addition, the pair signed a combined 17 checks made out to cash totaling $5,764. Grand total: $56,636. As union treasurer, Herring also allegedly concealed the thefts in financial records.
The thefts were detected when officials of United Teachers this year realized the numbers weren’t adding up. The union conducted an internal probe, concluding Daniels and Herring were the culprits, and filed a complaint with the sheriff’s office. By the start of August, the pair decided to turn themselves in. Daniels and Herring face a motion hearing on October 7 and a pre-trial hearing on November 4. At this point, they might as well change their plea.