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Suspects plead guilty; plan to return money to PTA

Becky Vargo • Jul 21, 2015 at 1:12 PM

Melissa Moore and Adam Youngs entered guilty pleas Monday in Ottawa County Circuit Court to charges of embezzlement of between $1,000 and $20,000. The pleas were in exchange for time to pay back the money to the organization.

Moore resigned as PTA treasurer in late May. She told Judge Ed Post that she converted the stolen money, which her attorney said was just over $20,000, for her own use.

Youngs told the judge he “benefited from the conversion” and knew what his wife was doing.

Their attorney, James Piper, noted that the agreement called for a repayment on Monday of $9,700, but some of that money needs to come from the bond money they had paid.

Post agreed that they could pay $8,700 on Monday, and then a minimum of $500 a month for eight months to pay the rest of the amount.

A Nov. 4 sentencing date will be delayed for eight months if the couple is meeting the terms of the plea agreement.

Ferry Elementary School Principal Steve Avram told the Tribune for a June story that he was notified a week earlier about discrepancies in the PTA’s checking and savings accounts.

The Grand Haven Department of Public Safety announced Moore’s arrest on July 9. Her husband was arraigned in Ottawa County District Court on July 31.

The police investigation of the embezzlement covered a time frame of Aug. 1, 2012, to May 29, 2013, Post noted during Monday's hearing.

The missing money caused confusion, but PTA members were still able to put on the school's end-of-the-year celebration.

PTA Vice President Andrea Dress said the embezzlement affected a lot of families and left the organization with a mess to deal with.

“They’ve stolen quite a bit from me personally — my time,” she said. “They’ve taken quite a lot.”

PTA President Melissa Poll, who attended Monday's hearing, said: “We’re excited as we leave today. I’m hopeful of getting anything back.”

Poll said they would address the embezzlement situation at the PTA's first meeting of the new school year, which is set for 7 tonight in the school’s art room. The meeting will be moved to the gym if there is a large crowd, she said.

Poll said parent and staff support has been “fabulous” throughout the summer.

“I do 'school of choice' to send my children to Ferry,” she said. “I couldn’t be more happy with my decision.”


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