Jemicy School PTO official turns himself in

March 22, 1995|By Dan Thanh Dang | Dan Thanh Dang,Sun Staff Writer

A former treasurer of the Jemicy School's Parent Teacher Organization, charged with stealing $110,000 from the organization's bank accounts, has been released on $50,000 bail.

Howard Laing Epstein, 38, who disappeared the day before the school reported the theft Jan. 31, turned himself in Monday to Baltimore County police. Police said they did not know where he had been. He was arrested, charged with misappropriation of funds and two counts of theft, and was released on bond.

Mr. Epstein, a self-employed accountant who lives in the 8200 block of Anita Road in Stevenson, was indicted last week by a Baltimore County grand jury.

A Jan. 31 report by school officials to police said that $17,000 was missing from a PTO bank account, but an investigation conducted later by the state's attorney's office showed that a total of $110,000 was missing from two PTO accounts.

Officials at the private Owings Mills school for students with learning disabilities began checking into the bank balance in January when the PTO began receiving overdue notices on bills.

On Jan. 30, one day before the theft was reported, Mr. Epstein's XTC wife reported him missing when he failed to return home after leaving his office on Deereco Road in Timonium.

In a Feb. 2 letter to members of the Jemicy community, school officials announced that the funds were missing and detailed unsuccessful efforts to get the PTO treasurer's records. The letter also announced Mr. Epstein's disappearance, describing it as "a great shock to all of us."

Carla Katzenberg, a Jemicy spokeswoman, said yesterday that school officials would not comment on Mr. Epstein's arrest.

Ms. Katzenberg said the PTO money was to have been used for special activities, projects and expenses, ranging from scholarships to roller-skating trips for students.

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