Fugitive turns in self, confesses to crime
James Bassett turned himself into Chandler police Tuesday.

An Ahwatukee Foothills man wanted in connection with the embezzlement of $20,000 from a Chandler charter school told the Tribune he did it to collect money he says the school owes him.

James Bassett, 50, surrendered to police late Tuesday afternoon.

Bassett said Tuesday in a telephone interview before his surrender that he and his wife, Laurie Bassett, stole the money because Dobson Academy refused to work out a deal with him on an irrigation job on which he lost money.

It was money the school owed him, Bassett said.

“Did I go about it the wrong way, absolutely,” he said.

The principal for Dobson Academy did not immediately return a call seeking comment.

Cops have been looking for Bassett since the arrest of his wife, Laurie Bassett, Jan. 13.

Laurie Bassett was the school’s finance manager and she is in jail in lieu of $20,000 bail.

According to court documents and detective David Ramer, Chandler police spokesman, she drew up fake invoices for janitorial supplies and school supplies and wrote checks for herself and her husband for the amount of the invoices. She then altered the checks when they were returned to the school to reflect they were made out to vendors.

According to a court document, James Bassett cashed 14 fake checks totaling $11,383.18.

“My wife has never had a traffic ticket. She’s just a really good person,” Bassett said. “This all really boils down to me, bad decisions and choices I’ve made. That’s all there is to it.”

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