Former PTA president pleads to theft, forgery

She will spend 45 days on a work crew, pay restitution

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The former president of the parent-teacher association at Eleanor Roosevelt Elementary School in Vancouver pleaded guilty Thursday to second-degree theft and forgery.

Christina M. Caddy, 37, was ordered to spend 45 days on a work crew and pay $6,022 in restitution.

According to court documents, Caddy used the PTA’s debit card between Nov. 8, 2010, and March 10, 2011, and wrote a $100 check to herself from the PTA’s account.

When she was booked into the Clark County Jail a year ago, the mother of three said she’d been separated from her husband.

The couple has reconciled, and she told Clark County Superior Court Judge Diane Woolard on Thursday that she will be able to pay restitution because of her husband’s salary.

At the time of her arrest, Caddy was working part-time as a child care provider at New Heights Church.

Bank records show she used the PTA’s debit card to go shopping, spending $118 at Old Navy, $256 at Bed, Bath & Beyond and $136 at Nordstrom, for example.

She also used the card at restaurants, hair and nail salons and gas stations.

A small group of parents from the school, including Mike Just, attended Thursday’s hearing.

“We’re upset,” Just told Woolard. He said Caddy stole money meant for their children.

The money should have gone, according to court documents, for field trips, yearbooks, a fifth-grade promotion party, popcorn Fridays and family-oriented, after-school and evening events.

Defense attorney Steve Ruecker told Woolard that Caddy would like to apologize to the victims.

“She never intended to hurt the children,” Ruecker said. He told the judge that Caddy was in desperate financial straits and thought she would be able to replenish the PTA account before anyone realized the money was missing.

“The court has seen it before,” he said, referring to a half-dozen or so cases in the past decade of parent volunteers stealing money from PTAs and Little Leagues.

Caddy was initially charged with first-degree theft and accepted a plea deal to avoid a trial. More than 95 percent of felony crimes are resolved by a plea bargain.

In 2008, the former PTA president at Washington Elementary School was convicted of first-degree theft and sentenced to six months in jail for stealing $7,700.

Ruecker said not everyone will agree that Caddy has been adequately punished, but she will be a convicted felon.

Woolard, who imposed a joint recommendation of 45 days on a work crew, agreed.

“That’s quite a label to carry around with you,” Woolard said.

Stephanie Rice: 360-735-4508 or stephanie.rice@columbian.com.