PTSD defense doesn’t work for PTA embezzler

She claimed Post Traumatic Stress Disorder although she never served in combat when she was in the military. Her husband decided to divorce her after she ripped him off. Her family says she’s been stealing from people who trusted her for many years, and they’re showing up to present evidence at her sentencing hearing. Monday, former treasurer Dawn Saugen will be sentenced up to one year in prison for stealing $30,000 from Vargas Elementary School.  As one of the serical embezzler’s victims said, “She played us all.”

The San Jose Mercury-News reports:

When former PTA treasurer Dawn Saugen is sentenced Monday for embezzling $30,000, it will close a painful chapter at Vargas Elementary in Sunnyvale.

But the wounds from the deception will be slower to heal, and the trust harder to rebuild.

Saugen, 38, has already pleaded no contest to grand theft. Under the terms of the deal, she faces a maximum of a year in jail, deputy district attorney Paola Estanislao said. As part of the deal that dropped a forgery charge, Saugen agreed to pay at least $30,000 in restitution to the Parent Teacher Association.

Saugen became the Vargas PTA treasurer when her niece, who was in fourth grade, attended the school in 2011-12. From August through January, Saugen purchased gift cards, ostensibly for PTA fundraisers. She would intercept the PTA mail in the school office, then later had the cards shipped directly to her Palo Alto home.

The cards came from popular retailers such as Amazon, Walmart, Best Buy, Target and Nordstrom. She even arranged to get cards from American Airlines. In opening a debit account with a fundraising gift-card company, she forged then-PTA President Maria Dulay’s signature.

The funds Saugen siphoned off would have paid for field trips, classroom supplies, teacher grants and assemblies at the school where 75 percent of students are classified as low-income.

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