There’s nothing illegal about driving a school bus. But stealing from a union representing bus drivers and other school employees is another story. Lincy Merritt, bus driver and treasurer for California School Employee Association Local 98 in the San Joaquin Valley community of Tracy, pleaded not guilty in June to using her union office to falsely obtain $8,744.16. Her claim runs counter to a two-page felony embezzlement complaint filed the previous month. A local court, following her appearance on July 31, set aside a preliminary hearing for Merritt, 45, until September 4. But a plea deal already may be in the works.
Merritt has worked for the Tracy Unified School District since 1990. After assuming her duties as CSEA Local 98 treasurer in 2003, she allegedly embezzled funds, and additionally, failed to process the necessary paperwork to collect dues. She stepped down from her post a year ago. Attorneys spoke of resolving certain “misunderstandings” before agreeing to a deal. Union officials favor a plea bargain so long as it requires Merritt to make full restitution. Local 98 represents more than 500 bus drivers, custodians, auxiliary educators, mechanics and secretaries. (Inside Bay Area, 8/1/07).