The former treasurer and president of the South Fayette Parent-Teacher Association faces charges of theft and forgery after investigators said she cashed nearly $20,000 worth of checks to herself, along with making unauthorized cash withdrawals from the organization’s account.
Kristin Lynn Mandrick, 47, of South Fayette, was charged Sept. 20 for the alleged thefts that began in 2014, according to court documents.
Allegheny County District Attorney detectives began their investigation in 2016 from a referral from South Fayette Township police that money was missing from PTA accounts.
Mandrick is said to have used the money “for her own personal benefit including but not limited to payments/purchases for utilities, medical centers, clothing stores, grocery stores, and pet stores,” according to the criminal complaint. Unauthorized cash or fraudulent checks deposited into Mandrick’s personal bank account totaled about $19,933.24.
Investigators noted that there were several occasions where Mandrick’s personal account balance was below $1,000 or even $500 and would then deposit PTA money. On July 8, 2016, $3,000 was withdrawn from the PTA account and deposited into Mandrick’s account. The following day, Mandrick paid a construction company $3,000.
“There were not enough funds in (Madrick’s personal bank account) prior to the unauthorized/fraudulent monies from the (PTA account) to make the $3,000 payment,” the court document explains.
Mandrick had insisted on taking over the role of treasurer July 2016, after previously serving as president for two years, members told investigators. Other members began experiencing issues with Mandrick not performing assigned tasks. During the transition to new officers for the 2016-17 school year, Mandrick reluctantly resigned. She was not cooperative in providing bank statements and information to incoming officers and would become defensive when questioned about accounts.
New officers then went directly to the bank for account statements, at which point members learned the PTA account was in the negative. From there, documents revealed cash withdrawals. PTA officers told investigators that there would be no reason for Mandrick to withdraw cash directly from the account. Instead, any reimbursement requests should have been made in writing with receipts attached.
Mandrick also faces a forgery charge from allegedly faking the signature of a former PTA treasurer.
“When we were first made aware about potential wrongdoing, district administrators, along with the PTA officers, fully cooperated with the Allegheny County District Attorney’s office as it was developing its case. We have always enjoyed an excellent relationship with our PTA partners and look forward to working with them in the future to benefit our students and their families,” Superintendent Kenneth Lockette wrote in an email.
The PTA informed parents of the alleged embezzlement through a letter sent the day charges were filed.
“We have been working with Pennsylvania PTA, our state-level nonprofit association based in Harrisburg, to institute a number of best practices to provide stricter financial controls to improve our organization and to make sure this type of alleged activity doesn’t happen again,” the organization wrote.
The entity declined to comment further on the situation, citing that the investigation was ongoing.
“What we can tell you is, today, South Fayette PTA is a better organization for having experienced this situation and learned some important lessons.”