Balto. Co. school's PTA reports money missing

Thousands are gone from Chesapeake Terrace's account, group tells police

September 12, 2002|By Jonathan D. Rockoff | Jonathan D. Rockoff,SUN STAFF

Thousands of dollars are missing from a checking account that the PTA at Chesapeake Terrace Elementary School in Edgemere established to buy library books and pay for school assemblies, the group's president said yesterday.

Richard Petrey, the PTA president at Chesapeake Terrace, said the organization has asked Baltimore County police to investigate what happened to the "probably thousands, not tens of thousands" of dollars. He will turn over the group's books to police today, he said.

"There appears to be some money missing. It appears to have been diverted," Petrey said, meaning someone took the funds out of the account. But he said the group does not know how the money was removed.

"Our goal is to reclaim some of our money, so none of our programs will suffer," he said, adding that parents have donated more than $500 to continue some of the PTA's work.

The PTA learned of the missing money late last month, after receiving a bank statement showing that several checks on the account had been returned, Petrey said.

The group froze the account, stopped all outstanding checks and opened a new account, Petrey said. After consulting with the bank and PTA members, the group reported the missing money to the police last week. He declined to say if anyone is suspected of the theft.

Linda Chapin, the principal at Chesapeake Terrace, referred comments to Petrey.

Bill Toohey, a police spokesman, said the department hasn't yet launched an investigation into the missing funds.

"At the moment, we don't have enough to move on. We need more specifics," he said.

Petrey said the group did not know how much money was in the account. The PTA, which had 175 members last school year, raised the money from parents to pay for craft and book fairs, a sports day and other activities and resources.

The theft is the second such recent case in the region. In July, John N. Biggs Jr. of Westminster was arrested and charged in the theft of tens of thousands of dollars from the PTA at Hampstead Elementary School in Carroll County. As much as $60,000 was believed to be missing in that case.

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