Montgomery County police are investigating a report of alleged embezzlement related to the misuse of $39,000 in funds belonging to the Montgomery County Council of PTAs.
While acting as president of the MCCPTA, Paul Geller filed a police report April 10 reporting a fraud of $39,000, according to police documents.
In an April 23 email sent to the MCCPTA delegates’ listserv, an audit team for the organization stated that “significant financial irregularities were found” when reviewing bank statements and a treasurer’s file of receipts and invoices. MCCPTA is an association of local parent-teacher and parent-teacher-student organizations.
The audit team was formed by the board of directors March 23 after the MCCPTA president asked for volunteers to audit the organization’s financials since July 1, 2016, according to the email. The audit team prepared a report that it presented Tuesday night at a delegates assembly meeting held at Montgomery County Public Schools headquarters in Rockville. The MCCPTA delegates also elected new leadership at the meeting.
“Our goal is to help MCCPTA recover from this unfortunate situation by being transparent and forthcoming so we may deal with this very difficult issue and move on to the important mission of MCCPTA, which should be all about the children,” the team wrote in the email obtained by Bethesda Beat.
In an email to Bethesda Beat on Monday, Geller, who was still president of the organization at the time, wrote the review of financial records revealed “funds may have been diverted.”
“Based on that review, I notified the Montgomery County Police and an investigation has been initiated,” he wrote. “We are cooperating fully and providing all supporting information.”
In a letter from the executive board of MCCPTA that was sent to delegates Wednesday, the board wrote the money had been “improperly disbursed from the MCCPTA checking account” between July 1, 2016, and March 31.
MCCPTA also alerted the bank about the incident to “remove inappropriate access to the account” and notified the State’s Attorney’s Office, according to the letter.
Membership dues submitted from local PTAs were properly deposited and accounted for, although two PTAs that received MCCPTA funds are reviewing their accounts for irregularities, the MCCPTA board wrote.
To ensure membership fees are handled properly in the future, MCCPTA’s board is reviewing recommendations from the audit team to enhance the organization’s financial practices and prevent breach of bank accounts, the letter stated. MCCPTA is also working with Maryland PTA to ensure compliance with bylaws and best practices.
The “apparent theft of a substantial sum” was most likely carried out “by someone inside MCCPTA,” according to the letter.
Police have not charged anyone in the alleged fraud.