Life imitates art: PTA crime wave continues

Update: Read the editorial.

Volunteer groups are susceptible to embezzlement, especially during hard times. It’s an issue in CHAIN GANG ELEMENTARY, and out there in the real world, the latest case comes from New Jersey. Brian Freskos reports in the StarNewsOline:

Embezzlement charges directed against two area women active in parent support organizations that strive to better education underscore the financial vulnerability of volunteer groups when safeguards are lacking or neglected, experts said.

Deputies in New Hanover and Brunswick counties drew warrants earlier this month, accusing the women affiliated with the Sunset Park Elementary PTA and the Lincoln Elementary PTO with stealing thousands of dollars from their groups. Though filed within a day of each other, authorities say the cases are unrelated.

The allegations raised questions about the strengthening of financial protections in an era where experts have noted an anecdotal rise in white-collar crimes. Those interviewed in the past week believe the upswing is at least partially attributable to economic hardship.

Authorities charged Dana Leigh Brooks, 38, with 12 counts of embezzlement over accusations she stole more than $5,000 from Lincoln’s PTO between February and June. She came to the attention of authorities after the group received multiple complaints from parents concerning a recent fundraiser where ordered items were never delivered. Sgt. April Stanley, a spokeswoman for the Brunswick County Sheriff’s Office, said that when the funds were examined, it was discovered the goods were never paid for and there was a discrepancy in the finances.

Freskos goes on to deal more deeply with the vulnerability of volunteer groups and some of the remedies being pursued. To read more, click here.

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