Wyoming Valley West School Dances Part of IRS Probe

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KINGSTON -- A local school district appears to be the target of an Internal Revenue Service investigation.

Police and school officials in the Wyoming Valley West School District said the probe surrounds thousands raised from middle school dances over the last several years.

The IRS won`t comment on current investigations or even confirm if one is underway, but one Wyoming Valley West School Board member said he was questioned by federal agents about what happened to the money raised at Middle School dances.

Paperwork shows the investigation started at the State Street Elementary School in Larksville. On April 5, Larksville Police charged custodian Robert Lushefski with using the school district's trash dumpsters for his own household garbage.

The Wyoming Valley West School District fired Lushefshki last week, but sources close to the investigation told Action 16 the custodian warned of more wrongdoing at Wyoming Valley West Middle School in Kingston. That`s where Lushefski used to work.

District officials said that for more than a decade, regular Friday night dances raised tens of thousands of dollars for the Middle School's Student Government Association.

When we asked Larksville Police for any information about Lushefski's arrest, Police Chief John Edwards responded in a statement, "The requested information has been turned over to the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation Division for further investigation. The requested information is still the subject of an ongoing investigation."

"I am not aware of any investigation by the IRS into our Wyoming Valley West Middle School," said Chuck Suppon, the Superintendent of the Wyoming Valley West School District. Suppon stands by the teachers who handled the money at the Middle School dances.

So why would the IRS be interested in dances at the Middle School? There are more than 15 per year, they raise tens of thousands of dollars, cash only, and there`s no precise accounting of how much money gets taken in, or where the money gets spent.

District officials said some of the money went to pay off-duty Kingston Police Officers to provide security at the dances. The Kingston Police Chief admits the officers were paid in cash. No taxes were deducted until a change was made three years ago, and for the more than a decade, Superintendent Chuck Suppon admits those supervising the dances turned in cash after each event.

However, there are no documented records of exactly how much money they made and spent.

"We owe it to the community that we know exactly that every single dollar is accounted for," said the Superintendent. Suppon said he'll push to tighten bookkeeping at the middle school dances.

As for the man believed to be at the center of the federal investigation, former custodian Robert Lushefski: Newswatch 16 left messages at his home, but he has not returned our calls.