UPDATED: Mother sentenced to 15 years probation for $32K theft from elementary school PTO

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FORSYTH COUNTY, Ga. — A mother accused of stealing $32,000 from the Cumming Elementary Parent Teacher Organization (PTO) was sentenced to 15 years of probation.

Jamie Garfield, 37, pleaded guilty to three counts of theft by taking, stemming from an August 2011 arrest.

She was sentenced Wednesday morning, Dec. 19, by Judge Jeffrey Bagley, according to the Forsyth County District Attorney’s Office.

In addition to the 15-year probation, she will pay $10,000 in restitution and the remainder of about $22,000 will be paid over the course of her probation, according to Sandra Partridge, chief assistant district attorney.

“It was part of the negotiated plea that she pay $10,000 in restitution on the day of the plea,” Partridge said. “She will pay the remainder in installments through the probation office.”

The $32,000 was the amount of money the state could prove Garfield took.

The Cumming Elementary PTO did not want her to serve time in prison because she has two young children.

Garfield had served as treasurer for the Cumming Elementary PTO for several years until board members noticed and reported the thefts due to an overdrawn bank account.

She turned herself into investigators in August 2011. At the time the theft was reported in August 2010, she was no longer treasurer. The thefts were investigated for a 21-month span prior to August 2010.

Jennifer Caracciolo, a Forsyth County Schools spokeswoman, has said PTOs are managed and coordinated by volunteer parents and not financially supported by schools.

The PTO has since reinforced its monthly financial review with additional oversight and annually completes an external audit.

Parent Teacher Associations (PTAs) are closely associated with schools and have stringent supervision.