Thursday, January 22, 2015

Ex-PTO treasurer set for plea in $46,000 embezzlement case at Muskegon County elementary school

The former treasurer of Mona Shores' Campbell Elementary School Parent Teacher Organization has been scheduled for a guilty or no-contest plea to embezzling from the organization.

After a pretrial conference this week, Jordann Nicole Lockhart was scheduled for a plea Feb. 17 in front of Muskegon County 14th Circuit Chief Judge William C.  Marietti, according to the Muskegon County Prosecutor's Office.

Lockhart, 33, of Muskegon was charged last October with embezzlement by agent or trustee of between $20,000 and $50,000. That's a felony punishable by a maximum of 10 years in prison, but the actual sentence would be decided by Marietti based on state guidelines. Lockhart has no prior criminal record, which means her sentencing guidelines would likely be low.

Lockhart is accused of stealing more than $46,000 from the parent-teacher group.

Prosecutors earlier said the alleged embezzlements happened over a period of about 19 or 20 months in 2013 and 2014. Lockhart, who had control of the PTO's checking account, allegedly made checks out to cash or to herself, draining the organization's account.

The PTO is independent of the school. PTOs raise money privately through fundraisers, box-top redemptions, popcorn sales and the like.

Because of the embezzlement, the organization was left with no money to pay for new playground equipment recently installed at Campbell School, former Mona Shores Superintendent Dave Peden said last October. The school temporarily covered approximately $25,000 in costs, with the PTO expected to gradually repay the school district over a period of time, he said.

According to earlier reports, the missing money was discovered after the pastor of Westwood Reformed Church was presented with a check from the PTO that was returned for insufficient funds. The pastor informed the school's principal. The church helps the school with various events, including the annual fifth grade graduation ceremony.

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