From the Charleston Gazette:
Dawn Compton, who pleaded guilty to embezzling more than $10,000 from the West Teays Elementary parent-teacher organization, consults with her lawyer, David Moye, in Putnam Circuit Court on Thursday. ..
Ex-PTO mom pleads guilty to embezzling more than $10,000
By Alison Knezevich
WINFIELD – The former president of a Putnam County parent-teacher organization pleaded guilty Thursday to embezzling more than $10,000 from an account meant for playground equipment and a school carnival.
Dawn R. Compton, 42, admitted in Putnam Circuit Court that between August 2006 and July 2007, she had taken $10,338.07 from the West Teays Elementary School PTO to buy items for herself.
At her hearing, she wrote out a $3,000 check to the PTO. Her lawyer, David Moye, said he would mail the check to the PTO today.
Compton told the judge she would be able to pay back the rest of the money by the end of August.
“She and her husband are working together to withdraw it from his 401(k) plan,” Moye said.
Students at the elementary school missed out on new playground equipment, a year-end carnival, and other activities because of Compton’s dishonesty, PTO vice president Jennifer Johnson told the Gazette. One of Compton’s children attends the school, she said.
“Taking money from these children – that’s just sad,” Johnson said. “I can’t tell you how many volunteer hours I put in to raise that much money.”
PTO officers started getting suspicious last spring, she said. Usually, the checking account had a healthy balance of tens of thousands of dollars.
“We started receiving collection notices and bills that had not been paid, and there was no money to be found,” she said. “We didn’t have a penny.”
Compton had complete control of the finances, Johnson said.
“She would not let anyone touch the checkbook,” she said. “Even the treasurer.”
Johnson said she feels sorry for Compton’s family, but “parents need to know that there are consequences.”
In court, Compton said she would usually write PTO checks out to cash, and then use the money for herself.
She also would go to stores such as Sam’s Club and use PTO money to buy items for both the school and herself, Moye said.
“She wanted to make it right with the PTO,” he said.
The missing money caused somewhat of an uproar among West Teays parents last summer. Last July, Putnam County schools treasurer Bill Duncan went over the group’s books after parents alleged money was missing.
On Thursday, Duncan said he had turned over his findings to a police officer months ago. He said he never knew that Compton had been charged with a crime.
“I’m happy that [prosecutors] followed through with it,” Duncan said. “We lose the faith of the public if they feel that their money’s not safe. That’s my greatest concern.”
Compton was charged via an information, which usually means a defendant cooperated with investigators. She waived her right to indictment by a grand jury.
Spaulding released Compton on a $10,000 personal recognizance bond. Assistant Prosecutor Larry Frye said she had cooperated with prosecutors and was not a flight risk.
She could face one to 10 years in prison and a $2,500 fine when she is sentenced April 11.