Tuesday, August 20, 2013

School's PTO treasurer charged in embezzlement in Michigan

The treasurer of an East China School District parent teacher organization is facing a charge of stealing from the group.

Jennifer Alloy, 33, of Marine City, was charged with embezzlement of more than $1,000, but less than $20,000 from a nonprofit organization.

Alloy began as the treasurer of the Belle River Elementary PTO in June 2012.

She was arraigned on the charge Aug. 14 in district court. Alloy posted the $2,000 bond Aug. 15. A preliminary examination is set for 9 a.m. Aug. 28 in front of District Judge Michael Hulewicz.

Alloy declined to comment Monday.

Nicole Hart, the PTO’s former president, said the organization became suspicious after money went missing after a fundraiser in February, Hart said.

Marine City Police Chief Don Tillery said his department conducted the investigation in cooperation with the East China School District.

Money the PTO raised was used to pay for transportation for school field trips and for the Scholastic News teachers used in the classrooms.

“We’re just hoping it doesn’t reflect too badly on us where people are going to say, ‘We’re not going to give anymore,’ It’s terrible for the kids,” Hart said.

East China School District Superintendent Steven Skalka said the district values its partnerships with PTO and booster organizations.

“They do a great deal of good work on behalf of the students and athletes, and should not be judged by the alleged inappropriate activities of any single individual,” he said. “As we go into a new school year, we again look forward to working with our entire community in the service of our students.
The Parent Teacher Organization at Belle River Elementary School in Marine City discovered this summer that funds meant for students were being pilfered by someone else.

That person is alleged to be the PTO Treasurer Jennifer Alloy of Marine City; she was arrested Aug. 14 by Marine City police. She was arraigned and had a preliminary exam before Judge Michael Hulewicz in Marine City District Court. Alloy is charged with embezzlement under $20,000. Alloy's next court date will be Aug. 28 in front of Hulewicz.

PTO President Kelly Vogler said when they first found out about the stolen money they were taken totally by surprise.

"It was quite a shock," she said. "We never thought we would ever be going through this. We all have gone through the gamut of emotions. Now, we are trying to keep positive and take the high road."

Marine City Police Chief Don Tillery said he couldn't comment on the arrest while it was still in court. Alloy was appointed defense attorney Randolph Martinek, Jr. and Senior Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Mary Kelly is prosecutor.

Belle River parent Nicole Hart said the amount was very close to $20,000 and possibly more. Hart said Alloy paid back $3,000 of it so the charges would be for under $20,000.

Hart said she believes Alloy began stealing from the fund "right when she took office before school even started on July 2012."

The offense involves writing phony checks, she said.

Carrie Devries, vice president of the PTO, said the amount of support the parents have given them is very encouraging during this time.

"We are trying to keep a positive spin on it and re-build," she said.

Vogler said they have instituted tighter measures in their accounting. They already had the two signature rule on checks when Alloy was in office, but now it will take three signatures on checks and they will be working directly with the Belle River Elementary office.

"We will have eyes on everything going in and going out," she said. "We are looking at ways that this will never happen again."

They have several fundraisers coming up in the coming months, starting with a Mom-to-Mom Bake Sale on Sept. 14, a Road Rally at Anita's Riverfront Grille on Sept. 28 and their annual Fun Run for the kids Oct. 11. They will also sponsor a Spookfest for Halloween on Oct. 25 and plan a Ladies Night Out on Nov. 16.

The Marine City Booster Club, another service group that works outside of the school's leadership, had the same problem three years ago, when - as booster club treasurer - Carrie Rhodes was caught pulling money out of their account to deposit into her own purse, totaling $35,000. Barbara Haman, then the ECSD director of financing, had said after the incident, she shared district-approved procedures for handling cash and making disbursements with various service groups in the district.

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