By Megan Hopps
SUN PRESS Newspapers
Former treasurer of the Oxbow Creek Elementary PTO, Melissa O’Brien, was charged with stealing nearly $55,000 in funds from the organization in April 2013 to pay personal bills.
She was charged with one count of theft by swindle for the funds that disappeared from the account between October and December 2012. Her husband, Dustin O’Brien, was also charged for cashing PTO checks.
O’Brien first took on the volunteer role of PTO Treasurer in September 2012 at which time there was $11,800 in organization’s bank account at the Anoka County Credit Union.
As a result of funds raised by students through a Club’s Choice fundraiser, there was approximately $98,000 in the PTO account by Oct. 4, 2012. PTO President Darla Noah said she was first alerted to a potential problem in early January after another PTO member tried to cash a reimbursement check from the PTO account and it was returned for insufficient funds.
Other PTO members began to look into the account transaction history and found that O’Brien had written checks payable to herself, her husband and her mother.
It was also found that O’Brien had pocketed the insurance premiums which caused the policy to expire. As a consequence, the organization’s attempts to recover from the insurer for O’Brien’s thefts may be unsuccessful.
Melissa O’Brien and her husband Dustin pled guilty to the felony of theft by swindle. Melissa was found guilty of stealing roughly $53,000. She was sentenced to serve five years probation, pay full restitution and serve 365 days in the Hennepin County work house. Dustin was charged with $3,500 theft by swindle. He will also serve five years probation, pay restitution and serve 30 days in the work house.
“Today was a good day,” said PTO member Kate Ott. “The school can find closure and finally put this terrible incident completely to rest. She was held accountable for her crimes.”
Contact Megan Hopps at [email protected]