Former PTA treasurer pleads guilty to embezzlement

By Laura McVicker, Columbian staff writer

Published:

Updated: October 4, 2012, 7:15 PM

 

The former treasurer of a parent-teacher association at Maple Grove primary and middle schools accused of embezzling nearly $15,000 pleaded guilty Thursday to five theft-related charges.

Cheryl C. Zwiefelhofer, 37, of Battle Ground entered guilty pleas before Clark County Superior Court Judge Robert Lewis to first-degree theft and four counts of forgery. She will be sentenced Nov. 9.

Vancouver City Prosecutor Kevin McClure said in court he plans to recommend a sentence of one year in prison.

In exchange for her guilty plea, the prosecutor dropped 13 other charges, including second-, third- and first-degree theft and an additional count of forgery.

According to a court summons, prosecutors allege Zwiefelhofer stole the money from the PTA between August 2011 and March of this year, when she resigned.

The PTA president on March 21 alerted the Battle Ground Police Department to the alleged thefts, and officers then launched an investigation of Zwiefelhofer.

Prosecutors filed charges in July.

Investigators said in court documents that they found several times — including a book fair, fall festival and another fundraising event — in which Zwiefelhofer cashed checks to herself that she never fully reimbursed and took money from the PTA’s cash till.

Financial difficulties claimed

Investigators also linked Zwiefelhofer to $5,698 of money missing from a “Winter Wonderland” fundraiser, according to court documents. Zwiefelhofer also wrote reimbursement checks to herself for purchases she never made and forged checks to herself using the name of the PTA president, according to the court summons.

Detectives estimated the total loss to the PTA at $14,704.

She said she had been having financial difficulties and used the money to pay rent, utilities and gas, according to court documents.

The PTA sent out a letter to parents and staff on May 30, alerting them to the investigation and informing them that “we are working diligently to implement changes, so our community can have confidence that PTA resources are being managed appropriately.”

Zwiefelhofer is free on supervised release.

Laura McVicker: www.twitter.com/col_courts;laura.mcvicker@columbian.com; 360-735-4516.