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Riverbank PTA case goes to DA

RIVERBANK -- An investigation into possible theft from a Riverbank PTA will be turned over to the Stanislaus County district attorney's office this week at the earliest, Riverbank Police Chief Tim Beck told school board members and their audience Tuesday.

It will be up to the district attorney to decide if anyone should be prosecuted.

For about a month, police have been investigating last year's financial transactions by the Rio Altura Elementary School PTA. The exact amount unaccounted for is unknown, but the group's newly elected president, Paula Jara- millo, filed an insurance claim for $14,000 after state PTA auditors noticed things were not adding up as they conducted an already overdue audit.

Because the investigation is under way, Beck would not go into the details of the case.

State PTA auditors noticed discrepancies as they conducted an audit that had to be done before the association could split into two PTAs: one for the elementary school, the other for the newly established Riverbank Language Academy, which is housed at Rio Altura.

Investigators have checked two people who no longer are in a position to handle the PTA's finances. They have not been arrested because they aren't a risk to public safety, Beck said.

"And an arrest could be made and they'd be out on bail in a half-hour anyway," he added.

Some school board members are angry that people could take advantage of a nonprofit group meant to promote educational opportunities for children.

"So nothing may be done about this?" school board member Patricia Blount asked, seemingly shocked after learning no one has been arrested. "I'm furious that the community has worked for this money and someone would put it to their personal use."

Some of those who were active in the Rio Altura PTA when the discrepancies occurred now volunteer for other booster clubs, Riverbank Unified School District Superintendent Joe Galindo said with concern. It is unknown whether those people are related to the PTA investigation.

ehightower@modbee.com or 578-2382.

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