Ex-president of PTO charged with embezzlement from fundraisers

A former Parent Teacher Organization president in Huntington Beach, California, is accused of embezzling up to $22,000 of fundraising money. Prosecutors in Orange County say that Gail Diane Panella-Monestere is charged with one felony count of grand theft by embezzlement and she could face up to three years in jail.

An accounts payable audit by the Huntington Beach Police Department revealed that Panella-Monestere had stolen approximately $22,000 from the organization. She is accused of writing unauthorized checks to herself for various amounts from the PTO account, according to the Orange County District Attorney's office. She then spent the money on personal expenses.

She is also accused of keeping and spending the money raised from the PTO fundraising events that was supposed to be deposited into the organization's bank account. Once school officials noticed that the money was missing from the account, the police department was notified while the investigation and audit followed.

Panella-Monestere served as the PTO president from September 2010 to February 2011, during which the illegal activity took place. Her arraignment is scheduled for June 29.

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