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Former Jamestown School Board President Robert "Mike" Culpepper pleaded guilty to a felony charge Thursday, just before jury selection was to start for his trial.

Culpepper had been accused of accumulating more than $9,100 in charges on a school district credit card, in order to rent vehicles for his personal use. The charges mounted between December of 1994 and November of 1995.

"He pleaded guilty to defrauding the government, for using the school district credit card for personal business, without authorization," District Attorney James Subjack said. "The felony charge carries a prison term and that is the only thing that is guaranteed as far as a sentence is concerned if restitution is to be a part of it."

Culpepper remains free without bail, pending sentencing Nov. 12.

The plea, before Acting Chautauqua County Court Judge Lynn Hartley, satisfies a three-count indictment, which also included third-degree grand larceny and official misconduct.

Culpepper resigned from the School Board when the credit-card expenses were discovered by Superintendent Craig King.

Former school district business manager Dale Weatherlow also was suspended at that time, and earlier this year was fired following a closed Civil Service hearing. Officials said Weatherlow knew about the credit-card abuses but took no action to stop them and did not report the matter either to King or the rest of the School Board.

Weatherlow has been appealing his dismissal, which is still pending in court.

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