A former leader of the Parent-Teacher Organization at Batesburg-Leesville Primary School was sentenced to two years in prison and five years probation Wednesday after pleading guilty to taking $23,000 from the group.
Tonya Timmerman, 34, also is required to repay $9,000 to the school group on top of $14,000 already given back.
PTO leaders are satisfied with the decision even though Timmerman’s sentence is less than the 10-year maximum.
Circuit Judge William Keesley told Timmerman imprisonment is warranted because she took advantage of those who trusted her.
“You lived better means on the backs of people you had no right to do,” he said.
Timmerman apologized for diverting money intended for classroom extras and medical care for a sick child to pay household expenses.
“I was out of my head,” she said.
Timmerman used the money to pay electric bills and her home mortgage as well as purchase gasoline, groceries, cigarettes, online music and other items for 15 months ending in April 2011, assistant solicitor Robert Elam said.
The diversion forced the family of a sick child into debt to assure their health insurance continued, he said.
Some of the money Timmerman took was raised at events to assist Ryan Boldt, 7, who is battling leukemia.
His mother Tammy said Timmerman was “betraying” her son in using money raised for his medical care. The Boldts received more than $7,900 in restitution Wednesday.
Stacey Derrick, a PTO leader, said other money the group raised was for playground equipment, copy paper and other items to help teachers and students. About 650 pupils in kindergarten through second grade are at the school.
PTO leaders changed the way money is handled after the loss was discovered.
The episode is making it harder for the PTO to raise money, Lexington 3 superintendent J. Chester Floyd said.
“One of the real tragedies of this is lost public trust,” he told Keesley. “It just gives all of us a black eye.”