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TV threats suspect accused of stealing from state school

MOBILE (AP) — A Mobile man arrested on federal charges of threatening a TV station faces state charges of stealing more than $73,000 from the Alabama School of Mathematics and Science while he was its finance officer.

Daniel Ray Leonard, 37, already in jail for making terrorism threats against Mobile television station WPMI, where his roommate worked as a reporter, has been charged with theft and forgery, District Attorney John Tyson Jr. announced Friday.

Tyson said the alleged thefts dating to January 2005 were discovered following Leonard's arrest on June 15 for making what Tyson described as "Virginia Tech-type" threats against the TV station.

Tyson said officials at the Math Science school, a residential state school for exceptional high school students, and State Comptroller Bob Childree in Montgomery assisted in the investigation.

"This comes as a shock to myself and members of the ASMS community," school spokesman John Hoyle said, describing Leonard as a choir director at church. "To think he could possibly be taking money from kids is just a shock."

The school's attorney, Robert Campbell, said Leonard was hired in 1999 as a comptroller and promoted to finance director in June 2003.

Leonard didn't respond to an ASMS letter on June 16 requesting his resignation, Campbell said, apparently because he's in jail. The school's next step is to send him a termination letter by certified mail.

A conviction on the theft charge could bring a sentence of two to 20 years; for forgery, one to 10 years. Leonard's bond hearing is scheduled for Monday.

Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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