2018-02-28 / News

PTA official faces embezzlement charges


Christina Saunders Christina Saunders Another official with a Chesterfield Parent Teacher Association has been charged with embezzlement, the second in the past year.

On Feb. 6, Christina Saunders, 33, of the 21000 block of Hampton Avenue, was charged with embezzling about $7,000 from Matoaca Elementary School’s PTA. Saunders served as the PTA’s president at the time, and allegedly took the money between Oct. 2017 and Jan. 2018.

Records pulled from the state’s online courts database reveal that Saunders had previous run-ins with the law, sentenced to a month in jail for concealing/altering the price of merchandise in 2007. She was also found not guilty of felony petit larceny, third or subsequent offense, and failure to appear on charges in 2014.

Reached for comment on the Saunders case, current Matoaca Elementary PTA President Allen Thompson sent a statement via email.

Jessica Yeakey Jessica Yeakey “Matoaca Elementary School PTA reported their concerns to Chesterfield County Council PTA, who supports PTAs and PTSAs in the county when financial mismanagement is suspected,” the statement reads, referring to the organization that offers support and assistance to PTAs at the school level. “After an audit revealed discrepancies in the financial records, a police report was filed. The person in question is no longer on the Matoaca Elementary School PTA board.”

Saunders’ case is the second PTA member charged with embezzling funds recently. On March 30 of last year, Jessica L. Yeakey, 40, of the 12000 block of Windsor Road, was charged with three counts of embezzlement of more than $2,800 between Oct. 2016 and March 2017 from Elizabeth Scott Elementary School’s PTA while serving as its treasurer.

Yeakey has also been charged and arrested with failing to appear in court on Oct. 5 of last year on these charges. She was scheduled to stand trial on Jan. 25, but didn’t appear, and is now considered a fugitive. According to the county police department’s website, Yeakey still had two active warrants against her for felony charges of “revocation of suspended sentence and probation” as of Feb. 23.

Andrea Thurmond, president of Elizabeth Scott Elementary’s PTA, sent the following statement regarding Yeakey’s case.

“Once we realized that Jessica [Yeakey] had lapsed in following the proper financial procedures, we reported our concerns to Chesterfield County Council PTA,” it reads. “They helped us by conducting an audit of our financial records which revealed that financial mismanagement had indeed occurred. We then filed a police report, Jessica had already given us her resignation as treasurer, we presented the audit findings to our executive board and general membership, and began rebuilding and strengthening our internal controls.

“The PTA does a great job of providing a framework of checks and balances to safeguard funds, and we have been following those guidelines closely with no further issues. The Elizabeth Scott Elementary School PTA leaders recognize our responsibility to ensure the safety of our PTA funds and we are fully committed to this task.”

Sara Gilliam, president of the CCCPTA, says her organization supports and provides resources to the school-level groups, but doesn’t oversee their operations. To deter embezzlement, Gilliam’s organization recommends two signers on all checks, as well as providing monthly treasurer’s reports and bank statements to each school’s PTA.

“Those are two things that should be presented every month, and if they aren’t, that’s a red flag,” Gilliam says. “[The] PTA does a really great job of providing … checks and guidelines to stop fraud.

“Even if it’s not caught right away, it’s usually caught, because we do have these checks and balances.” ¦

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