The former treasurer of Wellsville Elementary School's parent-teacher organization is accused of stealing more than $30,000 from the PTO because she was struggling with "financial hardship."
Patricia Ann Smith, 39, of 7270 Harmony Grove Road in Warrington Township, remains free on $50,000 unsecured bail. That means she didn't have to post any money, but could forfeit the amount if she fails to attend court appearances.
State police allege that while treasurer of the PTO, Smith wrote 30 checks totaling $33,764.14 from the PTO account and deposited them into her personal bank account. It happened between June 1, 2010, and Dec. 19, 2011, police said.
The issue came to light in February when Steven Lehman, principal of Wellsville Elementary School, was notified by the PTO's bank that the account had been closed because it was more than $1,900 in the red, according to Smith's arrest affidavit.
But Lehman and PTO officials knew the PTO had raised more than $30,000 in the past three years, police said.
Principal denied: Lehman approached Smith, who said she'd requested an audit be done by a local accounting firm, police said.
Lehman at that time asked Smith for bank statements, but Smith "denied" him that information, saying it had all been forwarded to the accounting firm, the affidavit states.
On March 21, Lehman again asked Smith for bank statements and was told by Smith that she was working on getting them from the accountant, police said.
The next day, Smith gave Lehman a copy of a document from that accounting firm, indicating the PTO account was under review, according to the information.
But police said Lehman questioned the authenticity of the document and called state police.
An employee of the accounting firm later examined the document and told investigators it was fraudulent, the affidavit states.
The investigation determined Smith forged it, police allege.
Investigators obtained a search warrant for Smith's credit history and learned she had multiple accounts with past-due balances and high balances that had been turned over to collection agencies, according to the affidavit.
Troopers also looked at Smith's bank-account history and found numerous checks that Smith wrote either to herself or to "cash" from the PTO account, the affidavit states.
'Hardship': On Wednesday, Smith told troopers she "came into financial hardship" about the same time she became treasurer of Wellsville Elementary School's PTO, according to the affidavit.
She admitted writing checks to herself and using the money "for her own personal interests," the affidavit states, and also admitted forging the document she'd claimed was from the local accounting firm.
On Thursday, Smith was arraigned on charges of theft and forgery, both third-degree felonies.
Her preliminary hearing is set for July 2, according to court records.
Smith did not return a phone message seeking comment. It's unclear if she's retained an attorney.
Northern York School District officials also did not return a phone message seeking comment.
-- Reach Elizabeth Evans at firstname.lastname@example.org, 505-5429 or twitter.com/ydcrimetime.