By Will E Sanders
TROY — Once in charge of Bethel’s elementary school PTO, a parent who served as president of the organization will spend the next 30 days behind bars after she was caught stealing more than $15,000 from the group last year.
On Monday at her felony theft sentencing hearing, Amanda R. Stitzel, 36, of Bethel Township, was sentenced to serve 30 days in jail, a two-year mandatory term of community control sanctions, and to make full restitution for the $15,345 she stole. Stitzel has already made full restitution in the case.
At a court hearing in April, Stitzel entered a guilty plea to grand theft, a felony of the fourth degree, in common pleas court stemming from the theft of thousands of dollars of money from the PTO between July 27, 2012, to Sept. 19, 2013, that she used for personal finances.
Her attorney, Stacey Pavlatos, told Judge Christopher Gee his client was a friend and mother and asked the judge to delay Stitzel’s jail time, but that request was denied. Pavlatos said Stitzel’s actions were “out of character” and were based on “a series of mistakes” she made regarding the stolen money, which she intended to pay back before investigators began looking into the case.
Stitzel apologized at the hearing as PTO representatives from Bethel schools sat in the courtroom gallery, saying she broke the trust of those who depended on her.
“I want to apologize to Bethel and to the people who depended on me,” she said. “I am sorry, more than you will ever know.”
However, once Stitzel learned she would be placed in jail for 30 days and was being led away, she turned around to those representatives with tears rolling down her face and muttered, “I hope you are happy.”
Members of the PTO did not speak at the hearing, but instead supplied the court with victim impact statements.
The judge scolded Stitzel before announcing his decision on the sentence.
“You certainly took advantage of the good will and trust of others and as a result, you tarnished the reputation of a trusted community organization,” Gee said.
Stitzel faced a maximum prison sentence of 18 months in prison, and Gee warned her that should she fail to complete the requirements of her probation, she could be sentenced to up to 17 months.
Will E Sanders may be reached at 773-2721 or on Twitter @TheDailyCall.