Former elementary school principal was arrested after it was discovered that she had set up a fake PTO account. Going on a shopping spree using money that used to purchase snacks.
A former Waterbury elementary school principal who resigned amid an investigation into cheating on standardized tests has been arrested, accused of talking more than $10,000 from an unauthorized parent teacher organization account.
Police said Maria Moulthrop, 51, of Middlebury, the former principal of Hopeville School, is accused of spending $10,186.21 from a school account on personal expenses.
Police began to investigate in December 2011, while Moulthrop was on administrative leave for allegations of cheating on statewide tests. The school department conducted an internal investigation and uncovered some questionable expenditures, so they contacted police, police said.
Police said Moulthrop had been operating a PTO account funded through fundraisers and sales of Rice Krispy treats, ice cream sandwiches and Slushies to students at lunchtime, which is forbidden by school department policy.
Unlike other legitimate PTO accounts that have rules, bylaws and Board of Education supervision, Moulthrop had sole authority over how the money was spent, police said.
She used the account to purchase items for the school and students, but also for her own personal use without Board of Education permission, according to police.
Moulthrop is accused of using the money to buy a flat-screen television, an iPod, shrimp, laundry detergent, other food and household items, thousands of dollars in gift cards, a digital camera, a backpack leaf blower and a gift certificate to a local restaurant. She is also accused of using $1061.80 of the money for repairs to her personal vehicle and of making multiple cash withdrawals.
Police said detectives discovered that many of the purchases were not school related and were made while school was not even in session and that there were no receipts or documentation to support or justify the purchases.
Moulthrop was charged with second-degree larceny and surrendered at the Watertown Police Department on Wednesday morning and was released on a $50,000 bond.
Attorney Rachel Baird said Moulthrop cooperated fully in the investigation, met with detectives for more than three hours, offered documents and “clarifying the necessity and use of a Parent Teacher Organization in a Waterbury Public School.”
“Ms. Moulthrop looks forward to responding to the charge now brought against her by the City of Waterbury and asks the community to withhold judgment until the case is resolved in court,” Baird said.
Moulthrop is scheduled to appear in Waterbury Superior Court on July 9.