Monroeville woman to be sentenced for thefts from Parent Council organization

MONROEVILLE Motive was never established in the crime. Neither was the exact amount of money stolen.
Cory Frolik
May 24, 2010

MONROEVILLE

Motive was never established in the crime. Neither was the exact amount of money stolen.

But authorities said Tamera Kamann pocketed far more funds from a nonprofit organization than initially thought.

"It was a mind-boggling investigation. One thing led to another -- wire transfers and ... fundraisers where money turned up missing. I'm not sure we ever found it all," said Monroeville police Chief Mike Ruggles.

Kamann, 39, 3100 block Fern Road in Willard, pleaded guilty last week to a felony forgery charge. She was originally charged with two felony counts of forgery and one of theft.

She will be sentenced in mid-January.

Kamann served as president of the Monroeville Parent Council for 10 years or more. Parent Council was an organization that raised money for items and activities benefiting Monroeville Schools -- such as playground equipment and school supplies -- similar to any parent teacher organization.

Parent Council hosted dessert sales and grocery drives to raise money. These events sometimes brought in thousands of dollars.

But thousands of dollars in proceeds never ended up paying for playground equipment and other student activities. Instead, they paid for a vacation for Kamann and for other personal uses, a police report states.

Suspicions of Kamann's misdeeds were aroused more than a year ago.

Chris Gravenhorst, the group's secretary from 2005-07, said she had a gut feeling something was wrong following a fall 2007 Parent Council meeting.

According to Gravenhorst, Kamann claimed she placed some of the Parent Council's money -- as much as $5,000 -- into a certificate of deposit. Kamann said she was going to talk about the account at the meeting.

But then she never mentioned it. This struck Gravenhorst as odd.

"I knew right then and there something was up," she said.

Soon thereafter Gravenhorst resigned from the council, citing concerns she had with the structure of the organization. Mistrust of Kamann's unchecked control of the group's finances played a role in her resignation, the police report states.

Gravenhorst described Kamann as abrasive and self-important. But she never imagined Kamann was a crook.

On March 3, school officials called police.

The Parent Council was disbanding and a new organization -- the Parent Teacher Organization -- was taking its place. The new organization was having trouble obtaining financial documents from the Parent Council. School officials said the PTO wanted to know how much money was available to them, but Kamann failed to produce the information.

On March 25, Kamann met with police and admitted to siphoning cash from the organization.

"In your investigation (if) you find money missing ... I will pay it back," she allegedly told Sgt. Frank Gleason.

During the interview, she also admitted to forging other Parent Council officers' signatures on a loan document. She borrowed $2,500 from the bank, which she used to take a "short vacation," the police report states. She told Gleason she paid back the loan in full.

To this day, the full amount of her embezzlement is unknown. A paper trail was discovered but was so disheveled that calculating how much went missing was difficult.

Gleason "ate and slept this for months. He took it home with him and worked it on weekends and his days off," Ruggles said.

Restitution to the organization will likely be ordered in this case, authorities said. The amount under consideration was about $10,000. That could be far less than she actually pinched.

"If you look purely at the amount of checks she wrote to herself -- or wrote to cash -- those were over $20,000," Ruggles said.

To be fair, it is possible Kamann used a good deal of the money to pay the Parent Council's bills. The record is too sketchy to know for sure, officials said.

"We're just glad to see the money go back to where it belongs," Ruggles said.

Kamann's attorney, Gordon Eyster, did not immediately return calls seeking comment.