TOWNSHEND, Vt-After a two month long investigation by the Vermont State Police Westminster woman who had been a suspect in the investigation since October 18 been arrested and cited to appear on December 27th in Windham County Court for embezzling an estimated $2,000 from the Townshend Elementary PTO Group over the last 2 years.
Elissa Wagner, 40 former treasurer of the TES PTO Club which raises funds specifically for activities and field trips to benefit the students was cited into court five days ago on November 17th.
Previously, it appeared that they had a suspect but the identity was until there was confirmation and an arrest.
On October 25th, the Vermont State Police in Westminster posted a press release on the VSP blogspot reporting the incident was under investigation.
“On 10/17/2022 at 1701 hours, Vermont State Police received a report of alleged embezzlement of funds by a member of PTO at the Townshend Elementary School in the Town of Townshend. Troopers are currently investigating and more information will be released when the investigation has concluded.”
Then on November 17th the VSP reported that they had made an arrest.
“On the above date and time, Vermont State Police Westminster received a report of missing funds from the Townshend School PTO Club. The club reported Elissa Wagner had allegedly embezzled more than $2,000 over the past two years during which she served as the club’s treasurer. Further investigation confirmed Wagner had stolen the funds.”
On October 18th one day after the VSP announced their investigation the Townshend School Club Facebook page issued a statement reaching out to the community to stay strong and continue their support of the club, the PTO group and the school.
They claimed that they were trying to be transparent in the report of their findings and revealed the position of Wagner only as the treasurer of the PTO without her name in their post.
“It is with the heaviest of hearts that we must bring to light an incident regarding School Club funds. We regret to inform you that the former treasurer of our School Club has been embezzling funds for personal use from our bank account and fundraiser money for approximately the past 2 years. We understand that there have been inquiries regarding the clearing of checks paid from previous fundraisers which has led to an investigation into our accounts where we found discrepancies.”
They continued to speak to the community on their position in the investigation.
“While this is currently under investigation and we have consulted assistance from state authorities, we cannot confirm/deny the amount that has been taken by the individual whom we trusted and loved. We can, however, promise you transparency to the fullest extent of what the investigation allows and continued transparency moving forward. As parents ourselves who have put in extensive hours into the fundraisers and our own money to benefit the children of TES, we are just as heartbroken and angry as you may be.”
The TSC page post clearly outlined their plans moving forward.
“The School Club will be undergoing a major structural transformation with the guided support of TES administration and community members. We want to make it clear that the School Club is a parent organization and is in no way affiliated with the WRED school district. At this time, Jesi Thomas will remain as President, Michelle Goulet will remain Vice President and Renee Deurloo-Michaud will remain Secretary and now take on the role of Interim Treasurer.”
They asked their community to not lose faith and trust in their mission
“We wish for this tragedy to not deter you from attending meetings and continuing to donate your time and items needed, but to encourage you to be part of our TES School Club community. As a fundraising club, we are relied on to financially support things like class trips, fun events and student/teacher enrichment. Now is not the time to let this separate us but to come together as a community in support of our school.”
According to the statutes on the Vermont General Assembly website, the charge of larceny ranges from civil to criminal.
“A person entrusted with the charge of money, land, or other property belonging to a town or school district for the use of schools, who embezzled, misapplies, or conceals the same or any part thereof shall be liable to be removed from his or her trust and shall forfeit to such town or district double the amount so embezzled, misapplied, or concealed, to be recovered in a civil action on this statute, in the name of such town or district, with costs.”
The potential increase in charges is outlined as criminal if the individual hold a position in a municipality..
“A State, county, town, or municipal officer or other person who in his or her official capacity receives, collects, controls, or holds money, obligations, securities, or other property, who embezzles or fraudulently converts to his or her own use any of such money, obligations, securities, or other property, or a person who embezzled or fraudulently converts to his or her own use money or other property belonging to the State or to a county or municipality, or a municipal corporation, or a special purpose district, shall be guilty of larceny and shall be imprisoned not more than 10 years or fined not more than $1,000.00, or both.”