Former HISD Secretary to Pay Restitution for Embezzlement, Small Fire

Former HISD Secretary to Pay Restitution for Embezzlement, Small Fire

A former secretary at a Houston Independent School District elementary school pleaded guilty this week to stealing about $35,000 in school activity funds and will pay the money back, as well as paying to repair damage from a small fire that she set to divert attention, Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg announced.

“Investigating and prosecuting white-collar crime takes time, experts and resources, and it is a priority of our office,” Ogg said. “It is important to the integrity of our public institutions that we seek justice in cases where someone has been stealing taxpayer money, and, if possible, to see that the money is paid back.”

Adriana Castorena-Narvaez pleaded guilty and was convicted Thursday of felony misapplication of fiduciary property in exchange for five years of felony probation and restitution to HISD in the amount of $37,521.64.

If Castorena-Narvaez fails to pay the money back, or violates any of the conditions of her probation, it can be revoked by a judge and she can be sent to prison. The third-degree felony of misapplication of fiduciary property is based on the dollar amount and carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison.

Castorena-Narvaez worked in the administrative office of C.E. Barrick Elementary School and was able to divert the money over the course of three years.

In October of 2022, the principal of the elementary school became suspicious and called in Castorena-Narvaez to answer questions. That morning, before students arrived on campus for the day, Castorena-Narvaez started a small fire that caused minimal damage to the school.

The case was investigated by the HISD Police Department with help from personnel from HISD’s Office of Ethics and Compliance. The Houston Fire Department’s Arson Division investigated the fire.

Assistant District Attorney Robert Buss, a chief in the DA’s Public Corruption Division, prosecuted the case.

“The Harris County District Attorney’s Office is committed to ensuring public funds are not misappropriated by government employees,” Buss said. “This case brings a just result for the students, parents and teachers of C.E. Barrick Elementary.”