Former treasurer pleads guilty to stealing $3,500 from PTA

November 01, 1994

The former treasurer of the Crofton Meadows Elementary School PTA has pleaded guilty to felony theft in Anne Arundel Circuit Court for stealing up to $3,500 from the organization.

Susan Haller, 32, of the 2000 block of Cambridge Drive in Crofton, admitted to Judge Raymond G. Thieme Jr. Oct. 26 that she took the money during her three years in the office.

Assistant State's Attorney Eugene M. Whissel II said yesterday that Haller had agreed to pay $3,500 in restitution as part of a plea agreement reached in the case. In exchange for the plea, prosecutors dropped an additional count of felony theft.

Ms. Haller, a free-lance community correspondent for The Sun, could face up to 15 years in prison and a $1,000 fine when she is sentenced by Judge Thieme Dec. 15.

According to court records, Haller had "total control" of the PTA's checking account and was responsible for the organization's record keeping.

Among the checks she is charged with writing are a $417 check on Feb. 10, 1993; a $344 check on July 21, 1992; a $398 check on Aug. 10, 1992; and other checks totaling $649 between Dec. 15, 1992, and Dec. 21, 1992.

"During an interview with Susan Haller, she admitted to writing checks to herself from the PTA's account for her personal use and not the PTA's business," Detective Joseph Pazulksi wrote in his statement of charges.

Detective Pazulksi said Haller claimed she planned to return the money but never managed to do that.

"She just told me that she used it for her personal expenses," he said.

Dorie Folstein, former president of the Crofton Athletic Association, where Haller was registrar for five years, said she was shocked by the incident.

She said that there is no specific investigation into Haller's activities with that organization, but that the group is always reviewing its financial accounts and practices.

She added that as registrar, Haller was not empowered to write checks for the organization, but that she collected cash from parents registering their children.

John S. Carroll, editor of The Sun and The Evening Sun, said yesterday was the first time he had heard of the charges. The incident will be investigated, he said.

"It's a source of serious concern that we'll be taking a close look at," Mr. Carroll said.

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