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PTA leader arrested for embezzlement

February 5, 2013
By Katie Kuba - Senior Staff Writer (kkuba@theintermountain.com) , The Inter-Mountain

The former president of Midland Elementary School's Parent Teacher Association was arrested for embezzlement Monday.

Sarah Jane Butcher, 35, of Elkins, was charged with embezzlement greater than $1,000 after she allegedly wrote checks totaling more than $2,000 from a Midland Elementary School PTA bank account to pay for items that were not for school use.

Butcher is accused of spending $2,260.69 on personal items between Oct. 29, 2012, and Jan. 23, 2013, according to the criminal complaint filed in the Randolph County Magistrate Clerk's Office.

The complaint states Randolph County Superintendent of Schools Terry George contacted the Randolph County Sheriff's Office Jan. 23 to report a crime involving finances. Deputy D.L. VanMeter with the RCSO subsequently met with George, Midland Elementary Principal Melinda Akers and Brad Smith, financial director for the Randolph County Board of Education, at the Randolph County board office.

At the meeting, Akers told VanMeter that she had "on several occasions" asked Butcher, the PTA president, to submit financial records from the PTA's bank account with Mountain Valley Bank, according to the complaint. Akers said that on Jan. 23, Butcher and another individual delivered the PTA checkbook and several receipts to Akers in the principal's office.

Butcher informed Akers that there had been "misappropriation of funds" while the bank account was under her control and simultaneously delivered a letter of resignation from her post to the principal.

When VanMeter met with Butcher on Jan. 29, Butcher told him that she had taken over as president of Midland Elementary's PTA at the beginning of the current 2012-2013 school year. Butcher also allegedly admitted to spending an estimated $2,024.62 on "non-PTA" supplies, the complaint states.

Butcher said she had written checks out of the PTA bank account to pay for food, clothes and electronics for her family.

"When asked why she used the funds from the account for personal use, (Butcher) advised that her husband was disabled and that it was hard times," VanMeter wrote. According to a list of checks provided in criminal complaint, the former PTA president allegedly wrote a series of checks to herself, Walmart and Big Lots from Oct. 29, 2012 through Jan. 8, 2013 that totaled $2,260.69.

Butcher told VanMeter that she took "full responsibility" for her actions and also said she planned on paying the money back with her tax refund.

When contacted for comment Monday, George said he was not authorized to discuss the specifics of the case due to the ongoing investigation.

"I would love to discuss it once it gets dealt with," the superintendent of schools said, "but I've been asked not to discuss it for the time being."

"I can tell you that individual no longer has any association with Randolph County Schools or any of Randolph County Schools' Parent Teacher Associations," George said.

Randolph County Magistrate George M. Riggleman set bond at $10,000 cash or surety; Butcher made bond Monday.

The penalty for a conviction of embezzlement greater than $1,000 is imprisonment for one to 10 years in the state penitentiary.

Contact Katie Kuba by email at kkuba@theintermountain.com.

 
 

 

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