Four of five Benson County school board members face charges of misusing school funds

OBERON, N.D. — Four school board members in a Benson County town are facing charges after police said they misused $150,000 in school funding.

According to court documents, Corey Ploium, Karen Peterson, Jacob Hegland and Carolyn Nelson, who are all members of the Oberon school board, willingly used school funds to hire Victim, Survivor, the Voice, LLC, a sales firm that wasn't credentialed to do an audit, and wasn't in good standing with North Dakota's secretary of state.

The head of that company was a friend of Ploium's, court documents say.

Matthew Friesen, who ran for school board in 2019 and lost in a recall vote, said he wasn't surprised about the arrests.

"You don't get on a school board to ruin the school, and that's what people around me have been saying for a long time," he said.


Ploium was previously a 5th and 6th grade teacher in Oberon, a town about 25 miles southwest of Devils Lake, but resigned in 2015 after being accused of having sex with a student.

All four board members face a number of charges, including misapplication of entrusted property, giving false information to law enforcement and failure to disclose a conflict of interest.

Peterson will appear in court on June 8, while Ploium, Hegland and Nelson will appear on June 22.

Tanner Robinson is a producer for First News on WDAY-TV.
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