LA MARQUE — School board member Shirley Fanuiel is set to step away from her duties for a while.
She has not commented publicly since she was indicted on felony theft charges earlier this month, but in a statement to be read by school board President Nakisha Paul at today’s meeting, Fanuiel will announce she is taking a leave of absence.
She won’t attend the meeting and is not resigning from the board, Paul said.
“She wants to take a leave of absence until this is all resolved,” Paul said.
Today’s meeting is the first time the school board will meet since Fanuiel was charged. It’s unclear when and if Fanuiel will stand trial.
Paul said there are no restrictions on how long a school trustee can be away from office.
“She cannot be forced from the board unless she is found guilty (of a felony),” Paul said.
Fanuiel is accused of defrauding an 88-year-old La Marque man out of his house and an annuity, the district attorney’s office said. The alleged theft occurred between 2009 and 2013, District Attorney Jack Roady said.
The 16-year school trustee is listed on the agenda for today’s meeting to make a statement. The trustees are also supposed to meet on two employee grievances.
The indictment accuses Fanuiel of illegally obtaining the house of Wade Watkins. She is also accused of illegally obtaining Watkins’ annuity.
Watkins, a former executive chef for Gaido’s, became a ward of Galveston County Social Services in 2011 because of diminished mental capacity, the district attorney’s office said.
The indictment contends that Fanuiel obtained power of attorney from Watkins and transferred ownership of Watkins’ house in the 2600 block of Rosalee into her name.