PTA embezzlement: “You wouldn’t think this would happen”

I would.

And she faces such a heavy, heavy penalty.

This one’s from New Jersey:

ROSELLE PARK — A Roselle Park woman has admitted stealing more than $8,000 from the local Parent Teacher Association, where she served as treasurer, Union County Assistant Prosecutor Shawn Barnes said.

Jamie Amato, 41, pleaded guilty in Superior Court in Elizabeth Thursday to taking $8,659 from the Robert Gordon Elementary School PTA account last year.

This amounted to nearly a third of the PTA’s annual budgetm and Amato gets off with probation if she pays back the money. Otherwise, she has to serve a whopping 90 days in jail.

Money quote: “You wouldn’t think this would happen but everybody’s a volunteer,” (the PTA president) said. “The people you work with are your friends but you just never know.”

Read more.

Another PTA embezzler sentenced to jail

Don’t try this at home.

From the Roanoke (Virginia) Times:

Despite repaying the almost $25,000 she stole and reading a tearful apology to Cave Spring Elementary School in court, Melissa Brown Neal earned a sentence of six months in jail for embezzling and forging checks from the school’s PTA.

Neal, 38, was sentenced Monday in Roanoke County Circuit Court to four years for two felony convictions of forgery and eight years for two felony convictions of embezzlement. Judge Jim Swanson suspended all but 180 days in jail and four years probation from that 12-year sentence. Neal will learn next week whether she will be eligible to serve the 180 days on house arrest, which would allow her to continue to work.

Neal’s attorney, Tony Anderson, had asked the judge not to send her to jail because she had repaid the group in full and given back to the community.

“Once all this came to light, you did everything right,” Swanson told Neal before stating her sentence. “It doesn’t erase that what you did occurred, what you did was wrong, what you did was recurrent.”

Swanson added that he sentenced her to jail because of the message it would send back to the teachers, students and families who know about the situation and had supported the PTA.

Neal, a mother and accountant, was the group’s volunteer treasurer since 2006. During the 2009-2010 school year she wrote checks to herself and signed the name of the PTA president, according to court documents.

To read the rest of the article, click here.

Because the truth hurts, Alabama prison bans Pulitzer-winnning book

I ran across this story on Douglas Blackmon’s facebook page, and it deserves repeating:

Prison officials in Alabama will not allow an inmate to read the Pulitzer-prize winning book that Blackmon wrote about the South’s infamous convict-lease system. They claim Slavery by Another Name: The Re-Enslavement of Black Americans from the Civil War to World War II  is “too incendiary.”

The inmate, a white man serving a life sentence, has sued over the state’s refusal to let him read the book. From the New York Times:

(Attorney Bryan) Stevenson, who is also the director of the Equal Justice Initiative in Montgomery, said he considered the lawsuit to be less about the rights of people in prison but primarily about the country’s refusal to own up to its racial history

Stanley Washington, a former inmate who is now a caseworker for the equal justice group, said that at the Alabama prison where he was serving a sentence in 2001, inmates were forbidden to watch the mini-series “Roots.”

“They didn’t give a reason,” Mr. Washington said. “We figured they thought it would rile up the blacks against the whites.”

To read the entire article, click here.

I’ve read Blackmon’s book, and participated in a panel discussion about it with Blackmon that was sponsored by the Atlanta Journal-Constiution.  It is a painful read, but essential for those who want to understand the South. (By the way, in the movie version of Gone With the Wind, Scarlett O’Hara uses convict labor to rebuild her fortunes–but the prisoners are white! Which is exactly NOT the way the system worked.)

For those of you that don’t know about the convict-lease, it was a method of forcing black men after the civil war to work on plantations, railroads, and in coal mines. Brutal, inhumane conditions were the norm. How bad was it? Here’s the opening passage on the subject from The Way It Was in the South: The Black Experience in Georgia, by Donald L. Grant:

Being a peon was not the worst thing that could happen to a black in Georgia.  After the Civil War and until it was abolished in 1908, the convict-lease system became, next to lynching, the most brutal manifestation of black oppression in the South.  The forced labor of its mostly black victims mainly benefited a small ruling elite. Leased convicts were prisoners who were given, rented, or leased by a governmental unit to individuals and companies that forced them to work, usually under atrocious conditions. Lessees wanted to maximize profits and were not held accountable for the prisoners’ condition.  As a result, the brutalization of prisoners was unparalleled. Driven to work by the lash– often when sick, underfed, and provided with miserable quarters — many died while serving their sentences.  Southern historian Fletcher M. Green called it “a system that left a trail of dishonor and death that could find a parallel only in the persecutions of the Middle Ages or in the prison camps of Nazi Germany.”

Fergit, Hell.


Take her away: New York PTA embezzler sentenced

From the Poughkeepsie Journal:

A Town of Poughkeepsie (New York) woman who stole more than $3,000 while serving as treasurer of a local school PTA will spend the next four months in jail for the crime.

Melissa Chapman, 37, of Star Farm Way sobbed Wednesday morning as she was led out of a fourth-floor courtroom in the Dutchess County Courthouse after her sentencing.

Chapman admitted last month that she had embezzled $3,200 from the Cold Spring Elementary School PTA in Stanfordville while she was the group’s treasurer in 2009 and 2010. She entered a guilty plea to grand larceny, a felony.

Chapman brushed aside tears as she told Judge Stephen L. Greller she was sorry for what she did.

“I feel absolutely horrible … I feel sorry for the children I stole from, and it’s affecting my family,” she said. “My kids are being judged for what I did.”

Senior Assistant District  Attorney Edward McLoughlin said Cold Spring PTA members and school officials had told him they were glad Chapman had been convicted of a felony and was being held accountable for her crime.

McLoughlin said school officials  were not asking Greller to send Chapman to jail, but Greller said he believed she deserved some time behind bars.

“You stole, essentially , from kids, and you did it over an extended period of time — this crime took a level of sophistication,” the judge told Chapman.

“You need some time of incarceration,” Greller said. “I need to send a message to those who are in charge of money that is entrusted to them, and you violated that trust.”

The judge then sentenced Chapman to four months in jail, placed her on probation for five years and ordered her to pay back the money she stole.

As Greller spoke, Chapman sobbed loudly and pleaded with him to reconsider the jail term.

But Greller told sheriff’s deputies to escort Chapman from the courtroom.


Mom gets new trial in jaywalking death case

Latest update: The judge has thrown out the reckless conduct charge. See story.

Update: After her plight received national publicity, Raquel Nelson receives a sentence of probation and community service–along with a chance to clear her name.

While she was convicted of walking outside a crosswalk after deboardint a Cobb Transit bus with her three children, she pointed out during her trial that the nearest crosswalk was nearly a third of a mile away.  Her four-year-old son was killed when the group was hit by a car driven by Jerry Guy, who was convicted of vehicular homicide and served six months in jail. Ms. Nelson and her younger daughter received minor injuries. Her older daughter was not injured.

Read the Atlanta Journal-Constitution article for the details.

Original post: That’s Harsh

A Marietta, Georgia pedestrian has been convicted of killing her own child in a jaywalking incident, according to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. This sad and strange result comes on top of a conviction  for the driver in the incident, who was impaired at the time and also has a history of being a a hit-and-run driver.

The mother, Raquel Nelson, faces up to three years in jail.

The newspaper reports:

Nelson was attempting to cross at the intersection of Austell Road and Austell Circle with her three children when her 4-year-old son was struck by a car, said Savoy. The child later died from his injuries.

Nelson and her younger daughter suffered minor injuries and her older daughter was not injured, according to an article published at the time of the incident.

The man driving the car, Jerry Guy, confessed to having consumed alcohol earlier in the day, taking pain medication and being blind in one eye, Flocks said.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported last year that Guy was charged with hit and run, first degree homicide by vehicle and cruelty to children. Charges were later dropped to just the hit and run charge. He was sentenced to 5 years prison and probation, said the Cobb County District Attorney’s Office.

Court records show that Guy was previously convicted of two-hit-and-runs on the same day, Feb. 17, 1997.

The first hit-and-run also happened on Austell Road, but when Guy fled from that scene he hit another car, seriously injuring that driver and passenger, records show.

Guy pleaded guilty and received a two-year prison sentence, but was out in less than a year, according to the Department of Corrections website.