Former CES PTO officer arrested
A former Corydon Elementary School PTO treasurer turned herself in Thursday afternoon after a warrant for her arrest was issued for Level 5 felony theft.
Tami M. Herrold of Corydon allegedly committed theft of approximately $57,000 in a time span from Nov. 1, 2016, to May 18, 2018, from the PTO’s First Harrison Bank checking account using a debit card.
Members of the PTO board met with Harrison County Sheriff’s Dept. Detective Nick Smith on May 18, who reported the theft.
Herrold was recently placed in Our Lady of Peace facility for depression, according to the probable cause affidavit.
‘On May 17, 2018, both co-presidents chose to contact First Harrison Bank and obtain online access to the PTO’s account in case payments and/or financial decisions needed to be completed,’ it said.
Co-presidents Sarah Dougherty and Alisha Sonner immediately noticed that the account balance was more than $50,000 short. They then printed account history beginning in November 2016 through present and found more than $57,000 worth of fraudulent transactions had been made.
The account history included charges for as little as $10.97 from Dairy Queen in New Albany to as much as $2,841.11 to Bank of America. It included charges from Target, Walmart, Toys R Us, Walgreens, TJ Maxx, Kroger, Kohls, Dick’s Sporting Goods, Hibbett Sports, Indiana BMV, Town Square Gallery, Amazon.com, Petsmart and Swimville USA.
On a Facebook post Thursday afternoon, the Corydon PTO page said ‘the officers of the PTO have met and we have removed Mrs. Herrold as treasurer of the PTO and we intend to seek full restitution of any and all misappropriated funds.’
Smith said it’s important for everyone to realize that the PTO does a lot for the school and for students, a lot of which people may not know about.
‘It’s all money that’s raised within the community,’ he said Thursday during a press conference at the sheriff’s department. ‘And here the PTO is devastated by what’s taken place. It’s important to know that they came to us as fast as they could to work with us to make sure we brought this to end, as far as the investigation goes. The board is very devastated by the amount of money taken from their fund.’
Dr. Mark Eastridge, superintendent of the South Harrison Community School Corp., said the corporation has some really great parents donating a lot of time to make sure kids and teachers receive enriching activity through the PTO.
‘Students are the victim,’ he said. ‘We need to band together as a community and school and support students to make sure they don’t lose out on those opportunities.’
Eastridge said all of the activities planned by the PTO occurred last year and no services were unfunded.
‘Now, how do we go about ensuring nothing is lost next year?’ he rhetorically asked.
Corydon Elementary School principal Nissa Ellett said the PTO will continue with their planned fundraisers like the color run but will add an event in the fall and possibly winter.
‘I really believe this is a caring community and they’ll step up,’ Eastridge said.
Ellett said it is a substantial amount of money, but CES is a large school, with 648 students.
The PTO normally gives each teacher $200 to enhance their classroom, along with paying for study trips.
‘Trying to take an entire grade level on a study trip, that’s like moving the world,’ Eastridge said. ‘One hundred and fifty kids, that’s an undertaking.’
Herrold bonded out with a $5,000 full cash bond Thursday afternoon.
‘It’s not just as the prosecutor, but as a husband of a school teacher, I know all too well how underfunded our schools are,’ Harrison County Prosecutor J. Otto Schalk said during the press conference. ‘And to that extent, I know how valuable the funds raised from a PTO are to not just the school, but to the children attending that school. With the charges that we filed, alleging that more than 50,000 had been stolen from the Corydon Elementary PTO, it’s fair to say that’s a lot of money, as well as a lot of opportunity, that has been taken from our local students. Needless to say, seeking to recover the entire amount in restitution that has alleged to have been stolen is my utmost priority.’
The investigation is ongoing, but it’s believed Herrold is the only individual involved.
A pre-trial conference date is set for July 30 in the Harrison Superior Courtroom.
Herrold’s attorney is Bart Betteau.