The former treasurer of the Montgomery County Council of PTAs was sentenced Tuesday in Montgomery County Curcuit Court to spend nine months in jail for embezzling more than $39,000 from the parents’ organization.
Judge David Boynton sentenced Lisa Betts, 46, of Silver Spring to five years with all but nine months suspended and five years of probation. She also was ordered to pay restitution.
“We all feel it was a fair sentence,” Laura Stewart, an MCCPTA member who served on the audit team that investigated Betts, said Tuesday afternoon. “She hurt the reputation of PTAs because the only way we do business is to have donations. If people don’t think they can trust PTAs with their donations, they’re not going to give.”
In November, Betts pleaded guilty to taking money from the MCCPTA by writing fraudulent checks between July 1, 2016, and March 31, 2017, when she was the group’s treasurer.
The police investigation began in April 2017 when then-MCCPTA President Paul Geller filed a report about a suspected theft from the organization. The MCCPTA conducted its own internal audit of the financial discrepancies that had come to light during its leadership meetings.
Prosecutors have said Betts also misappropriated funds while serving as treasurer of PTAs for Greencastle Elementary in Silver Spring and Benjamin Banneker Middle School in Burtonsville.
A victim impact statement filed by MCCPTA states that Betts took at least $44,000 from the Greencastle organization and a smaller amount from the Banneker Middle group. She used the money to buy lunch, shoes, manicures, coffee, concert tickets, clothes and jewelry and to pay for her vacations, according to the statement.
“Her years-long theft was not an act of impulse or sudden opportunity—it was intentional and choreographed and scripted,” the MCCPTA statement reads.
Stewart said the MCCPTA has recovered most of its losses through its insurance coverage, although it had to pay a $1,000 deductible.
Boynton ordered Betts to pay $1,000 to MCCPTA to cover its insurance deductible, $44,000 to the Greencastle Elementary PTA and $27,000 to Travelers Insurance Co.
“Today’s sentence sends a strong message to the community. Do not steal from nonprofit groups which benefit children. We will hold you accountable,” spokesman Ramon Korionoff said in a statement from the Montgomery County State’s Attorney’s Office.
Betts’ attorney would not comment on the case when reached by phone Tuesday afternoon.
Bethany Rodgers can be reached at email@example.com.