Friday, July 5, 2013

Former Middleboro PTA president found guilty in embezzlement case in Massachusetts

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The former president of the Middleboro PTA was found guilty in an embezzlement case on Monday.
Sharon Ellis, 37, of Middleboro, was found guilty and sentenced to five years probation at a pre-trial hearing in Wareham District Court on Monday, according to the clerk’s office.
Ellis was charged with one count of larceny over $250 by a single scheme, along with Douglas Russell, 45, in late April for alleged embezzlement of $30,000 combined since 2009 from the PTA.
Russell also appeared in court on Monday; his case was continued until July 30.
Questions arose about the spending by a former president and treasurer of the Middleboro PTA when the group that supported the Mary K. Goode and Henry B. Burkland Elementary schools split into two separate groups.
Ellis was president of the parent group until 2011 but admitted to police that after leaving the group she continued using a debit card attached to PTA accounts until as recently as March, according to a Middleboro police report filed in Wareham District Court.
“It was all very shocking,” said CrisAnn Tortora, who worked with Ellis in the PTA and attended the hearing on Monday.
Ellis spent $18,167.22 from PTA accounts since 2010 and more than half of it since she stepped down as president of the group, the report states.
Ellis withdrew cash from ATMs and made purchases at Dunkin’ Donuts, Papa Gino’s, Market Basket, Hannaford, Dollar Tree, Target, Rite-Aid, Michael’s, Staples, PayPal and other online websites, the report said.
It was unclear whether Ellis was required to pay restitution as part of her sentence. Calls to her attorney, Amy Muscato-Wolter, were not returned on Monday.
Tortora said the entire Middleboro school community has been affected by this incident.
“We have not seen ‘I’m sorry,’” said Tortora. “She’s going about her daily life. Show some remorse. You took from children.”
Ellis and Russell, both parents of current Middleboro students, were the two members of the PTA who had access to the account’s checkbooks, the police  report states.
Russell is alleged to have been writing checks to himself, some for “postage,” the police report said. It is estimated Russell spent $11,133 between 2009 and 2011 on personal expenditures, the  report said.
The case was brought to the attention of Middleboro police by  the PTA in April, said Police Chief Bruce Gates.

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