FORT MILL — A former treasurer was arrested Tuesday after officials noticed more than $35,000 missing from the Pleasant Knoll Elementary School PTO funds, Fort Mill Police said.
Sherry Slate, 43, of Fort Mill has been charged with breach of trust with fraudulent intent, value $10,00 or more, according to Fort Mill Police. She turned herself in Wednesday morning and was shortly released on bond.
Slate said she had “some financial problems” after her fiance died suddenly in 2011.
“One thing led to another and I got behind on bills and I did something I shouldn’t have done,” Slate said. “I knew I was wrong.
“This is something I’m very remorseful for,” she said. “This is not who I am. I was very depressed. I hope the community can be understanding and respectful of my children and myself.”
The school’s current PTO President, Michelle Angeldorf, and Vice President, Alecia Belt, contacted police after discovering money missing from the PTO account.
"We had a transition of board members, and in turning over the books to a new board an audit was performed and the fund loss was discovered,” Angeldorf said. “Some of the improprieties were identified, which launched a full investigation in conjunction with the police department.”
Slate stole the money between Dec. 14, 2011 and April 8, 2013 while she was treasurer, police said. She’s accused of taking $35,147.61 from the school for “her personal use,” Major Bryan Zachary said in a press release.
Slate said that she is working with the solicitor and intends to pay the PTO back. She was saving up to repay the entire amount, and can afford to do that now, she said.
“I made payments before, back in the beginning of the year before anything was ever known, while I was still treasurer,” Slate said.
The Pleasant Knoll PTO, like other PTOs in the district, operates independently of the school and the district. It is run by parent volunteers.
The school’s current PTO has a "very strong current board and members," Angeldorf said.
“This is a scenario where it was just one person, the former treasurer, at fault,” Angeldorf said. "PTOs are a supportive system for the school. We hope no one will stop supporting the PTOs because of a single person."
Teachers and staff at Pleasant Knoll were notified of the theft on Tuesday and Angeldorf and Belt were preparing information to send home to parents.
They also met with district officials for advice on how to "navigate the situation," they said. "They’ve been extremely supportive," Angeldorf said.
“Even though the district and Pleasant Knoll Elementary School has fiduciary independence from the PTO and this is not a school district employee, we are concerned about this unfortunate situation and will support the efforts of law enforcement as the case unfolds,” Superintendent Chuck Epps said. “We appreciate the efforts of the current PTO board for their transparency and moving forward to support the students of Pleasant Knoll Elementary.”