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PTA treasurer accused of stealing thousands

More than $15,000 is missing from George Lynch Elementary, police say.

By JON WILSON, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published June 5, 2002

ST. PETERSBURG -- A PTA treasurer has been accused of embezzling thousands of dollars that should have been spent on school items.

More than $15,000 was stolen over a period of time from the PTA funds at George Lynch Elementary, 1901 71st Ave. N, police said.

Kathryn Ann Moylan, 43, was arrested Friday and charged with scheming to defraud after police investigated discrepancies in the school PTA's bank account.

"It's a very disheartening thing. We're very trusting souls in elementary schools," said Kathleen Proper, the Lynch principal.

Moylan is free on $10,000 bail. A hearing has not been set. She would not comment when reached by telephone Tuesday, saying she had to speak to her lawyer.

PTA board members grew suspicious several weeks ago after noticing irregularities on checks. Police said forged signatures of other PTA officers allowed Moylan to cash checks, and cash the PTA earned from fundraisers was kept instead of being deposited.

"It had been going on for a couple of months. When the discrepancies started, (PTA president) Terri (Long) started asking for the books and tried to get it straightened out in a friendly sort of way," said Jim Bullard, the PTA's secretary.

Moylan hesitated but eventually mailed the books to the board, Bullard said.

She had taken over as treasurer early this year after showing up regularly at meetings and indicating a willingness to help, he said.

As is typical for such organizations, the Lynch PTA built its bank account through fundraisers and donations.

"We've been very successful at fundraising, getting companies to sponsor things and donate things to us," said Bullard, who added that a couple thousand dollars was left over from the previous school year.

PTA money gives a school amenities it might not otherwise have. For example, at Lynch, the PTA paid for fifth-grade graduation ceremonies. It bought bottled water for students taking the FCAT, a bench for the kindergarten and gifts for Teacher Appreciation Day.

The money's disappearance didn't leave the PTA broke, said Proper, the principal. It was able to pay for some of the things the school planned, such as an end-of-term party for the safety patrol and buses for field trips.

But the theft jeopardizes plans for playground amenities like benches and a covered area.

"That definitely throws a glitch in our plans," Proper said. "But we're very resilient here. We'll do an extra walkathon."

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