School cafeteria worker accused of lunch money theft posts bail

School cafeteria worker accused of lunch money theft posts bail
Ada Martin (Image: Honolulu Police Department)
Ada Martin (Image: Honolulu Police Department)

SALT LAKE, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) - A school cafeteria worker accused of stealing thousands of dollars in lunch money is out on bail.

Ada Martin, who was booked Monday, is accused of pocketing $37,156.31 from Aliamanu Elementary School's lunch program.

She allegedly stole the money from 2012-2014 by manipulating the meal tracker computer program.

A bench warrant was issued for her arrest after a grand jury indicted her last week. She is charged with first-degree theft and the use of a computer in the commission of a separate crime.

"We feel that theft from any DOE school is stealing from the children," said deputy state attorney general Albert Cook. "That's something that we're just not going to tolerate and will prosecute to the full extent of the law."

Martin, 51, has a felony theft conviction from 1993 for welfare fraud. In that case, she was sentenced to five years probation and was ordered to pay $27,382 in restitution.

While on probation in 1995, she got a job with the state Department of Education as a part-time, emergency hire.

"We don't know what the circumstances were, however, she was hired at a department-level position where she assisted in, it seems, vendor payments," said state Department of Education spokeswoman Donalyn Dela Cruz. "We were quite surprised to learn that an individual who was serving parole was hired. That would not occur today."

Martin eventually ended up as a part-time office assistant at Aliamanu Elementary School. She has been in charge of the lunch program for the last eight years.

Parents expressed outrage after hearing about the case.

"The lady had a prior conviction for a money-related incident and they put her in a position where she was working with money," said parent Cheri Burness. "I couldn't believe that happened."

Parent Kristle Harris said she was very disappointed to hear about the allegations against Martin.

"I mean, there are so many good people here trying to do the best for the children and then you find that one bad apple who is taking from children," she said.

Martin is still on the job, but has been reassigned to different duties at the school that do not involve handling money.

Dela Cruz said the DOE's background check process has changed dramatically since Martin was hired 20 years ago. "We do local and federal criminal background checks, not just our local bases, but FBI so we have a much more sophisticated background check," she said.

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