Former PTA officer pleads guilty to embezzlement

(Delmarvanow.com) -- A former PTA officer pleaded guilty to two counts of embezzlement in Accomack County Circuit Court Wednesday in a plea agreement with the Commonwealth.  

Jennifer Stapleton, 37, of Temperanceville, will be sentenced at a later date, after a pre-sentence report is prepared.

She has no previous criminal record, and sentencing guidelines call for probation in the case, according to Commonwealth Attorney Spencer Morgan.

Morgan said an Accomack County Sheriff's Office deputy on Nov. 15, 2016, met with four people "who had come to discuss a suspected embezzlement."

The four included Jennifer Annis, Kegotank Elementary School principal, and PTA officers from the school.

One of the PTA officers told the deputy he had "encountered a number of irregularities" in the PTA's finances, according to Morgan.

An Accomack Sheriff's Office investigator, Patrick Coulter, later met with around a dozen people about the case, Morgan said.

The Commonwealth Attorney's office prepared a bill of particulars in the case, which listed 11 incidents of purchases made using a Kegotank Elementary School debit card, for which a receipt was not submitted and the purchase was not reported by a disbursement request.

They included purchases made at McDonald's and Walmart, fuel purchases, and a $150 charge at Beach Bounders, a Fruitland, Maryland, gymnastics center.


Morgan also submitted as evidence a document Stapleton submitted to the PTA in February 2016, giving a summary of receipts and disbursements.

According to Morgan, the document drew the attention of incoming Kegotank Elementary School PTA officers.

"They noticed there were several incidents," he said, citing among other incidents a discrepancy in receipts and bank deposits from doughnut sales, a movie night and from a PTA Bingo Night fundraiser that reportedly raised more than $2,000, but after which a bank deposit of $1,561 was made.

Additionally, a roster of PTA members indicates more dues should have been collected than was deposited in the group's account, Morgan said.

The bill of particulars notes the roster showed there were 115 PTA members, but said Stapleton deposited dues for just over 40 members in November 2015.

Morgan said the evidence against Stapleton is circumstantial, but he said she had the opportunity, rationalization and financial pressure to embezzle money.

"She claimed responsibility for the money for the PTA," he said.

The amount the Commonwealth claims Stapleton owes is just over $6,000.

She made a cash deposit of $1,000 into the PTA account at some point, and said she had donated the money, according to Morgan.

The plea agreement indicates restitution of $5,000 is to be made within six months, he said.

Judge H. Thomas Padrick Jr. found Stapleton guilty of both counts and ordered a pre-sentence report.

Stapleton will remain free on bond until she is sentenced.

Delmarvanow.com


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