DUBOIS – The former president and treasurer of the Juniata Elementary School PTA has pleaded guilty to theft for failing to deposit funds belonging to the school.
Michael P. Sprague, 43, 158 N. Pancoast Rd., Falls Creek, pleaded guilty to one count of theft by failure to make required deposition of funds received during Centralized Court at Magisterial District Judge Patrick N. Ford’s office. An additional charge of theft was withdrawn.
He will serve one year probation and he must pay fines, costs and restitution totaling $5,062.
According to a previously published Courier-Express article, concerned members of the PTA contacted police to report the theft of official funds by Sprague. A review of the PTA’s financial records uncovered money was missing from two deposits. They said Sprague, in his former positions, had been responsible for making the deposits and maintaining the financial records.
In March of 2013, the fifth grade students at Juniata held a fundraiser by selling $10 coupons for a local restaurant. The money was counted by all four members of the committee for the fundraiser on April 2, 2013 and a report entitled “Luigi’s Fundraiser Report for Fifth Grade Field Trip 2013” was made totaling the number of tickets sold, how much money was collected, how much was owed to Luigi’s and how much profit was made. The report was included in the deposit and personally given to Sprague April 2, 2013.
On April 9, 2013, two deposits were made to the PTA account totaling $5,945; one for $105 and the second for $5,840, which included $2,865 in cash, or $30 less than the amount collected.
In May of 2013, the students purchased T-shirts for the end-of-year picnic. The total collected was $655.50 with $100.50 of that amount in checks and $555 in cash. On May 14, a picnic planning committee meeting was held and a report was prepared and forwarded to Sprague. The e-mail reported that the T-shirt money was collected, how much money had been collected and that the money was at the school and ready for deposit.
On June 21, 2013, Sprague made a deposit of $828.50, consisting of 42 checks and no cash. There were 41 checks issued as payment for T-shirts totaling $100.50. The deposit included one commissioned check for $728, which was recorded as “T-shirts and lunches” in the PTA’s financial records. There were no records of the missing $555 in cash being deposited.
On Feb. 1, police interviewed Sprague at the police department. During the interview, Sprague denied having any involvement with the missing cash. After further questioning, Sprague told police he had taken the $555 and used it to pay bills, but denied taking the $30.
A forensic audit was performed, which showed $585 missing from the deposits. The forensic audit also showed an additional $664.99 in funds with no documentation of disbursement. The forensic audit cost the PTA $2,664.