The Parent Teacher Organization (PTO) president at Sun View Elementary School in Huntington Beach is scheduled to be arraigned Friday on charges of embezzling more than $22,000 from school fundraisers. Gail Diane Panella-Monestere, 52, of Huntington Beach, faces one felony count of grand theft by embezzlement and the possibility of three years in Orange County Jail with a conviction.
According to a statement from the Orange County District Attorney's office (OCDA), Panella-Monestere was responsible for tracking and maintaining fundraiser money as president from September 2010 to February 2011.
But she allegedly wrote $250 to $800 checks to herself from PTO bank accounts, then cashed them for personal use. She is further accused of keeping cash raised from events that were supposed to be deposited into the PTO bank account, according to the OCDA, which pegs the total illegal take at around $22,000.
School administrators who discovered the thefts contacted the Huntington Beach Police Department, which launched an investigation that led to Panella-Monestere's arrest and Friday's court date in Westminster.
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