Chattanooga PTA prez busted for theft

Doris Mizzell

This story out of Chattanooga is remarkable for the small amount of money involved and the alleged culprit’s unwillingness/inability to pay back the missing funds–although in one news account, she said that “Everything has been fixed.”

Maybe not so much.

Red Bank Elementary School PTA President Doris Mizzell–nicknamed DeeJay—has been arrested and charged with stealing $900 through fraudulent use of a PTA debit card. She’s also accused of stealing $189 from the petty cash fund.

According to The Chattanoogan,

Police said she told Haley Brown, the school principal, that use of the PTA money was “an accident.”

She was given two weeks to repay the money and did not, it was stated.

Read more.

Embezzler offers to pay back PTA 70 cents on the dollar

Our latest fiscal train wreck occurs in the state of Washington.

There are so many things wrong here. First of all, I wonder about the suspect’s situation. This isn’t the first instance I’ve seen of a military spouse being involved in a case like this–I think I’ve covered three. So there may be some larger issues at play, but first of all there’s the money, which is missing.  This was a very clumsy crime. Only one signature on PTA when there should be two, bank accounts gutted completely, and a very late call to police. Oh, yeah. Then she wants to shortchange the PTA on restitution.

From the Central Kitsap Reporter:

A local Navy wife stands accused of stealing more than $14,000 from the Clear Creek Elementary School Parent Teachers Association and leaving the organization’s savings account empty and the checking account overdrawn.

Authorities claim that Clear Creek PTA treasurer and Silverdale resident Michelle Eley, 30, wrote checks to herself and for cash totaling $14,627 without authorization to do so. Money was also spent through electronic checks written to companies such as Target.

Eley was booked into the Kitsap County Jail for theft in the first degree and later released without bail.

The president of the PTA first called the sheriff on Sept. 14 after returning for the start of the new school year to find the PTA accounts empty. Desiree Hartman told investigators that she first started to notice something was amiss at the end of the school year in June. Hartman said that Eley blamed the bank for making errors when confronted about the account balances.

According to Hartman and another PTA member, the checks should have required two signatures to be cashed. Investigators said only Eley signed the checks.

In a incident report prepared by the sheriff’s office, Hartman is listed as saying the $14,000 allegedly taken by Eley does not include any “cash deposits that may have been stolen or siphoned off” because no cash deposit slips can be found.

“Hartman said that Eley confessed to the PTA board that she stole $10,000 and that she knew it was wrong,” wrote Deputy Jeff Schaffer in a report on the the matter.

Schaffer said that Eley offered to pay back $10,000.

Read more.

“She needs to go to jail”

Money quote: “She needs to go to prison. Stealing from the PTA? Come on. That’s the lowest of the lows.” —Katrina Yale, former friend of Lisa Shirah

Here’s a case people should have seen coming. In the article, Ms. Yaled talks about a scam by Lisa Shirah that she fell victim to. You’d think she might have warned the PTA before they put the woman in charge of its money. Sheesh. By the way, another account notes that Lisa Shirah was president of the PTA from October to January, then switched to treasurer.  Interesting.

From the Plant City Courier:

TAMPA — When Lisa Shirah became treasurer of the PTA at Springhead Elementary School near Plant City, there was more than $25,000 in the group’s bank account.

A few months later, authorities said, the total was less than $600.

Police say the 34-year-old dental assistant and former PTA mom altered and forged checks and stole more than $16,000 from the fund that was supposed to pay for a variety of things to help students at the school that serves a lot of poor families.

Shirah was arrested by Lakeland police Friday and charged with 16 counts in relation to the missing funds. She faces single charges of grand theft and scheming to defraud, six charges of both forgery and uttering a forged instrument and two counts of theft of personal identification information.

Read more.

Rule No. 1: Never sign a blank check:

To write or cash a check, Lakeland police said, two other authorized PTA representatives must also sign the check.

Shirah is accused of signing the name of Liberty Libretti, a former PTA board member, on multiple checks.

Emma Angeles, another former board member, said she signed eight of the nine checks.

“Victim/Witness Angeles explained that Defendant usually approached her when she was in a rush and asked her to sign checks that were not yet made out,” the affidavit said. “Victim/Witness Angeles advised that she trusted Defendant Shirah and signed eight of the nine checks without question.”





Treasurer charged with taking PTA money for vacation—to Sandusky, Ohio?

After sending the kids back to college, running a booth at the Decatur Book Festival, switching editors for my next book, and, oh, yeah, writing, I’m just trying to keep up with this stuff. But I had to include this tidbit, especially because the funds were used for such a … modest end.


CARRICK, Pa. — A woman is facing charges after police said she stole money from a Carrick elementary school’s parent-teacher association and used it to go on vacation.

Investigators said the PTA treasurer at Concord Elementary School stole $6,000. Officials said the money was intended to be used for student field trips.

Police said Cathy Weinmann used the cash to pay a cellphone bill, take a trip to Sandusky, Ohio, pay for turnpike tolls and for food at Sam’s Club.

Weinmann faces theft charges.

A rare sentence: jail time for PTA embezzler

I’ve been following these cases for more than a year, and usually the culprit gets off with a sentence of probation, community service, and restitution.  Well, this crime happened in Texas, where there’s often more hell to pay, and Ms Gray (no relation to Chain Gang Elementary‘s PTO President, Richard Gray) is going to serve some time for the crime.

Brad Kellar reports in the Greenville Herald-Banner:

A former president of a local elementary school parent-teacher association has been placed on probation and ordered to serve almost six months in jail, after pleading guilty to stealing thousands of dollars from the organization.

Amy Gray of Greenville had received an indictment for forgery from the Hunt County grand jury in April. The indictment included 21 separate counts, alleging Gray wrote forged checks on the account of the Bowie Elementary School PTA.

Gray entered the guilty plea during a hearing Wednesday morning in the 196th District Court. Under a plea bargain agreement, Gray was placed on five years of probation, was ordered to complete 400 hours of community service, was sentenced to 180 days in the Hunt County Jail and was ordered to write a letter of apology to her victims.

Gray was facing a maximum sentence of up to two years in a state jail for a conviction on the charge.

Gray had applied for probation, should she be convicted of the indictment and the sentence imposed is 10 years or less, as she has never been convicted of a felony.

Gray’s family members said the entire missing amount has been repaid.

The indictment alleged Gray passed 21 checks between August 20 and November 27, 2011, in amounts ranging from $108.93 to more than $3,900 each. The total amount Gray was alleged to have stolen came to just under $20,000.

PTA embezzlement: “That’s just wrong on so many levels”

There is a glut of PTA embezzlement stories to start the new year. One reason: that’s when the rocks get turned over.

This story comes from CBS Sacramento: 

AUBURN (CBS13) – Investigators say a former Auburn PTA president robbed hundreds of students she was elected to help.

The Placer County Sheriff’s Office says Traci Lynn Bucher stole $2,200 from last year’s school fund and investigators are still looking into whether she has anything to do with an additional $2,000 that went missing.

Bucher, 37 and a mother herself, is accused of embezzling money meant for Auburn Elementary School students.

“That’s just wrong on so many levels,” another parent said Tuesday.

Sheriff’s detectives say she went on a personal shopping spree using a parent-teacher club debit card. The missing money came to light after other parents realized the club’s math wasn’t adding up.

Read more.