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Kanawha school workers face theft ring charges

CHARLESTON, W.Va. A theft ring among Riverside High School employees, which allegedly went on for years, was broken up after one employee’s son told police about the theft while a State Police trooper was serving him a domestic violence petition.

Five employees have been suspended without pay for their involvement in the scheme, the Kanawha County school system’s lawyer said.

State Police Sgt. Larry O’Bryan found out about the alleged theft from East Bank resident Ricky Smith, according to a criminal complaint in Kanawha County Magistrate Court.

The trooper was serving Smith with a domestic violence petition on Aug. 18.

According to O’Bryan, Smith said his mother — Linda Oda, the chief custodian at Riverside High — had been stealing from the Kanawha school system for years.

Smith allegedly showed the trooper numerous items he claimed were stolen, including garbage bags, several bottles of dishwashing detergent, several cans of Pledge furniture polish, toilet paper, bottles of industrial size Pine-Sol, industrial packages of Clorox wipes, several pounds of cheese, a large amount of block butter, apple juice, frozen strawberries, fajita vegetables, bags of French fries, bags of sausage patties, containers of cooking oil, vinegar, a 50-pound container of flour and a new industrial vacuum cleaner assigned to Riverside High School.

Later that day, Oda, 66, of East Bank, allegedly told the trooper that she had stolen $100 to $200 a month in food, garbage bags and cleaning supplies from the school for two years.

In front of Riverside High Principal Valerie Harper, Oda said “all the custodians and all the cooks are involved in stealing cleaning supplies” from the school. She named four other employees…

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