Eureka volunteer arrested for embezzlement

More than $40,000 in misappropriated funds
By: Nathan Donato-Weinstein
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A parent volunteer at Eureka School in Granite Bay allegedly used the school’s Parent-Teacher Club bank account as her own personal slush fund, police say, improperly withdrawing and depositing money over a period of at least three years. That alleged practice ended Friday when Angela Lyn Annis, 43, of Granite Bay was arrested on charges of embezzlement, grand theft and passing false checks, according to the Placer County Sheriff’s Department. Police and school district officials estimated losses from the alleged embezzlement at more than $40,000. After surrendering to police on Friday, Annis, who served as the club’s treasurer, made partial restitution for that amount. An attorney representing Annis declined to comment when reached late Friday. Reached at the family’s home on Friday, Annis’ husband also declined to comment. “We were shocked and disappointed to discover that one of our parents had abused their position of trust as treasurer of the PTC to re-direct the club’s money for personal use,” district superintendent Tim McCarty said in the news release. He added the district has been working with the Sheriff’s Office and District Attorney during the investigation. The incident came to light two weeks ago after the PTC president was notified by the club’s bank of a returned deposit, school officials said. Upon review, the president, Lynne Pautsch, discovered other “disturbing” irregularities and notified the school’s principal. Further investigation revealed the extent of the alleged scam. Officials said they believe Annis improperly withdrew funds and also periodically made deposits as recompense for some of those funds over a period of about three years; the deposit that caught the PTC president’s eye was one of those. Details about how the funds were misappropriated and how the embezzlement continued for so long were still sketchy, but McCarty said the alleged tactic involved altering checks. A full forensic audit would have to be conducted to determine exactly which checks were fraudulent, a lengthy process that could cost thousands of dollars. “That’s why a forensic audit is so complicated, because you have this money coming back and forth,” he said. McCarty added the district was now working to help PTCs at each of the district’s schools improve their accounting procedures. “We’re going to be proactive,” he said in an interview on Friday. “I’ve met with all the PTC presidents about this (Friday morning) and we talked about making sure we’re using the best practices possible.” PTCs are nonprofit entities considered legally separate from the district as well as the Eureka Schools Foundation, the fundraising charity arm of the district. Accounting practices among them vary. “What we’re going to try to do as a district is make it a little bit more uniform,” McCarty said. Eureka Principal Heidi Dettwiller notified parents of the arrest through the school’s automated phone system Friday afternoon. In an interview, she stressed the importance of parent volunteers and expressed hope the incident wouldn’t shake parents’ trust, nor their willingness to contribute to the school. Eureka’s PTC raises money through read-a-thons and other events that’s used to benefit students through technology purchases and assemblies. “We have this tremendous group of parent volunteers who do tremendous things for our kids,” she said. “We’re still geared up for exciting things we have for this year.” Annis had been a member of the school’s PTC for about six years. School officials do not believe she was involved in the same activity at any other district schools. “We have no indication that this is anything more than an isolated incident at one school,” said Tom DeLapp, a school consultant. An arraignment date was set for Sept. 23. Annis was released on $5,000 bail from the Placer County Jail on Friday.returned deposit, school officials said. Upon review, the president, Lynne Pautsch, discovered other “disturbing” irregularities and notified the school’s principal. Updated 6:30 p.m. 9/9/08