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Association treasurer charged with theft

Margaret Platt is accused of taking about $50,000 from a Belleair civic group and a charity.

By JONATHAN ABEL, Times Staff Writer
Published November 28, 2007


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Margaret Platt is being held at the Pinellas County Jail on two charges of grand theft.

Margaret L. Platt made a name for herself in Belleair through her community activism, but at the same time, police say, she was busy stealing from two local nonprofit groups.

On Tuesday, Platt was charged with two counts of grand theft, accused of plundering the bank accounts of the Belleair Civic Association and the Wonders Foundation, a charity she helped found.

In total, she is accused of misappropriating roughly $34,000 from the Civic Association and about $17,000 from the Wonders Foundation.

Belleair police Lt. Bill Sohl said the crime came to light earlier this year, shortly after Platt concluded her one-year term as treasurer. Platt was trying to pay back the money and made an unusual deposit into the association's account, which attracted the attention of another civic association member. That led to a more careful examination of the books and ultimately led the Belleair police to investigate.

Platt, 51, of 308 Woodlawn Ave., was arrested July 6 on one count of second-degree grand theft.

After that initial arrest, police said, it was discovered that Platt had stolen from the civic association during an earlier term as treasurer from September 2002 to September 2003.

Sohl said Platt repaid most of the money she took during her two terms as treasurer, though there was a $1,100 to $3,000 discrepancy between what she thought she owed and what the police thought she owed.

"I think she felt like she returned all of it, but she didn't," Sohl said. "Even still, you can't take money away from an organization even if you give it back."

Police said Platt made no attempt to repay the money she took from the Wonders Foundation Inc, a nonprofit that provides food and gifts for needy families, sponsors scholarships, purchases school supplies, and supports other charitable work.

According to Sohl, Platt took so much money from the Wonders Foundation - more than $16,850 - that its overdrawn bank account had to be closed.

Platt was being held at the Pinellas County Jail on Tuesday in lieu of $20,000 bail.

Jonathan Abel can be reached at jabel@sptimes.com or 727 445-4157.

[Last modified November 27, 2007, 20:19:31]


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