Bentonville police say Heather Jennings ripped off the Sugar Creek PTO to the tune of more than $23,000. Now police have issued an arrest warrant for Jennings, and they plan to charge her with theft of property -- a class B felony.
Police say Jennings would collect checks from fundraisers and donations, but rather than depositing the full amount into the Sugar Creek Elementary School's PTO account, she would keep some of the money for herself or simply cash the checks to keep for herself.
"We were extremely sad and just disappointed that it would happen to us, and disappointed that we didn't catch it sooner," says Cathy Hancock, principal of Sugar Creek Elementary School. "Just never dreamed a member of our PTO family would do something like that."
Sugar Creek teachers and faculty are still in shock at the news. News they discovered as the PTO president recently went to withdraw money to pay for a new $10,000 playground.
"We thought there should be $15,000 but in reality, there was under $200. It was a shock," Hancock says disdainfully.
Besides the new playground, the PTO money was supposed to go toward things like library books and rewards for students. Because the playground equipment was already installed before the school was billed, the company is allowing Sugar Creek to keep it and pay it off as they are able to. Police say Jennings has been expected to turn herself in all week, but hasn't gotten around to doing so as of Thursday evening.