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Thefts cost Middleborough PTA $30,000

MIDDLEBOROUGH — ­Police are preparing to file embezzle­ment charges against two people who they say fleeced an elementary Parent-Teacher Association group of about $30,000.

Police Chief Bruce D. Gates did not release the names of the suspects, but said it was a long-term scheme perpetrated by two PTA members who are no longer in the group.

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He said a former PTA president and treasurer began siphoning off money in 2008, but it was not until this month, when a book fair vendor presented several unpaid bills, that the scheme came to light.

On Sunday night, the School Department sent a phone message to all parents of students notifying them of a 6 p.m. business meeting on Monday that did not involve academics or the safety of students and staff.

About 200 parents showed up at the meeting, where Super­intendent Roseli S. Weiss read a brief statement on the alleged embezzlement but did not take any questions.

Weiss did not name the suspects but said both had children in local schools and asked parents to report any bullying or harassment when the suspects are identified.

In an attempt to quell ­rumors, Weiss asked parents to refrain from using social media such as Facebook and Twitter to discuss the situation and discouraged them from speaking to reporters.

Jon Lyons, a father of students at the middle and high schools, said he was not pleased with the brief statement read by Weiss. He said he did not like being told to whom he could talk and chose not to honor Weiss’s request.

“I thought it was interesting she dragged us up here to tell us nothing,” Lyons said ­after the meeting.

Told by a reporter that ­police believe the suspects took $30,000 from PTA ­accounts, he said, “It’s horrible; it was intended for a much better purpose.”

Most parents observed Weiss’s request and declined to comment as they filed out of the meeting.

Gates said the suspects are being summoned to Wareham District Court on May 22, when they will be arraigned on charges of larceny over $250.

Weiss said the PTA will seek restitution.

Alice C. Elwell can be reached at acelwell2@juno.com.
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