Crofton woman charged with stealing $2,900 from PTA Officials warn groups to be vigilant over money

November 14, 1997|By Tanya Jones | Tanya Jones,SUN STAFF

A Crofton woman has been charged with stealing $2,900 from Four Seasons Elementary School PTA in a case police and PTA leaders say should remind organization leaders to watch group money carefully.

Deborah Lynn Klein, 32, of the 2100 block of Lang Drive has been charged with felony theft and is expected to turn herself in to the Western District today, according to Detective Edward White.

White said the woman wrote and cashed five PTA checks between Sept. 11 and Sept. 26.

"I think she's got financial problems," White said yesterday. "Right now, I don't have anything to say," Klein said yesterday.

PTA President Marsha Dyjack said she noticed money missing from the organization's account when she opened the bank statement sent to the school in October. She told the principal, and they went to school system headquarters and then to police.

"This particular PTA caught this almost instantly and cleaned house almost immediately," White said.

Other school and community organizations that raise funds are not so quick to catch wrongdoing, he said. "Normally there are no checks and balances. Normally somebody finds out by accident."

Dyjack said instead of simply handing bank statements unopened to the treasurer, as some other PTA officials may do, she felt a responsibility to look at the statement.

"I feel like I was voted in to represent the parents and the students, and I need to be aware of the overall picture," she said. "Maybe this will be a heads up for people to be a little more cautious."

County groups got a similar reminder to be vigilant over money in 1994 after two elementary school PTA treasurers were charged with stealing from their organizations. At that time, the head of the county council of PTAs urged groups to have two board members sign checks and conduct annual audits and to '' buy insurance against theft.

Susan Haller, also of Crofton, was sentenced to 18 months work release in 1995 for embezzling $3,500 from Crofton Meadows Elementary School PTA and at least $10,000 from Crofton Athletic Council. She repaid the PTA and agreed to a payment lTC plan for the CAC money by the time she was sentenced.

Charles R. Nastasi, former PTA treasurer at Hilltop Elementary School in Ferndale pleaded guilty in 1994 to stealing $6,400 from that organization.

The charges against Klein shocked parents and faculty at Four Seasons, Dyjack said. The group started the school year with about $10,000, and the theft will slow plans to pay for books and computer upgrades and links in the school, she said.

Dyjack filed an insurance claim to get some money back, but also wants the person charged to pay it back.

"This is money that the parents, teachers and students worked hard to raise," Dyjack said. "I hope she can see both sides in her heart, not only her situation, but that that money needs to be paid back to Four Seasons."

The group's account with Citizens National Bank required two signatures on checks over $200, but Dyjack said that rule was ignored.

Operating without a treasurer for now, Dyjack said she and the group's vice president will have to sign every check, no matter the amount.

Pub Date: 11/14/97

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