Houston County AL Jan 18 2017 The former headmaster of Ashford Academy is being sought on theft and forgery charges.
The Houston County Sheriff’s Office has filed warrants for the arrest of Douglas John Bauer on nine counts of third-degree possession of a forged instrument, three counts of second-degree theft of property, six counts of third-degree theft of property and eight counts of fourth-degree theft of property.
According to the sheriff’s office, investigators believe Bauer made illicit financial transactions related to the school totaling more than $37,000.
Bob Key, the last chairman of Ashford Academy’s board, said he, Bauer and other board members have been making payments on the school’s debt because they remain individually liable for it. Key said each month the board members meet and write personal checks of about $600 each for the debt. Bauer was tasked with using the money collected to pay the school’s debt. Key said suspicions were aroused when board members began getting delinquent notices for bills associated with the school. He said the board reported the matter to the sheriff’s office, which began the investigation.
Key said Bauer’s alleged actions have made the already painful and financially stressful task of closing the school and trying to sell off its property even worse for board members.
“This is someone we were friends with and went out to dinner with,” he said.
Ashford Academy closed in May 2015 because declining enrollment made the school financially unviable. The school retains substantial debt related to staff salaries and other costs. Key said the property is valued at more than $1 million, and that all debts would be satisfied if the property sold for $850,000.
If you have any information about Bauer's location you can call the sheriff's office at 334-677-4807.