‘Lunch lady’ helped herself to thousands, Chesterfield police say

Posted at 11:28 PM, May 02, 2013
and last updated 2013-05-03 06:50:50-04

CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. (WTVR) - Lunch lady Tabitha Heyman was tasked with collecting cash from students in the lunch line at Monacan High School, but Chesterfield police said she periodically stuffed her pockets with the lunch money.

A police source told CBS 6 Heyman, 42, is accused of pocketing more than $4,000.

"Who's counting the beans?” asked Langston Walker whose son is a sophomore at Monacan High. “That's what I want to know."

His son’s lunch is charged to his debit card now, but it wasn't that way at the beginning of the school year.

"I used to send him with cash,” Walker said.  “Now I'm glad I don't."

Police said they believe the pilfering started the first day of school and went on for months.

"People make mistakes,” said CBS 6 legal expert Todd Stone.  “But when it's done over and over again, judges take that seriously because mental state is important."

"I'm amazed at how things can go on as long as it has," said Walker.

CBS 6 reporter Jon Burkett went to Heyman's Chesterfield home to get her side of the story, but the man that answered the door, who neighbors said was Heyman's husband, was not interested in talking to CBS 6.

"Is Tabitha able to talk?” Burkett asked. “No,” the man said.

“Do you want to comment on her behalf?” Burkett inquired.

“No comment," the man said.

Police sources told CBS 6 that after Heyman allegedly pocketed thousands of dollars, her co-workers turned her in. One student told us off-camera there is surveillance video of the lunch line.

When it gets to a courtroom, Stone said there's a lot that can come into play.

"She is innocent until proven guilty and a lot has to do with evidence, but if found guilty she can get up to 20 years,” said Stone. “A judge normally sees embezzlement as something more than just a larceny simply because you're converting money entrusted to you."

A Chesterfield Public Schools spokesman said Heyman was immediately suspended without pay, as required by state law when an employee is facing felony charges.