A Westmont resident previously accused of swiping more than $200,000 in funds from a local law firm over a three-year span is now accused of stealing $26,000 from Westmont Hilltop Elementary School’s Parent Teacher Organization in 2015.

Brittany Anderson, 45, used her role as the PTO’s treasurer to authorize and obtain $26,000 she claimed was for a “playground,” Cambria County Detective Brett Hinterliter wrote in a complaint filed Tuesday.

Hinterliter said district officials became suspicious after they came across a check this spring in that amount that was signed by Anderson and made out to her former employer, the law firm of Gleason, Markovitz and Barbin.

In March, Anderson was charged with multiple counts of forgery and theft, with investigators saying she deposited more than $200,000 of the company’s funds into her personal bank account, in a few cases forging founding partner Myron Markovitz’s name to gain access to the money.

School district officials discovered the PTO check weeks later and became suspicious about the matter, compelling them to contact the Cambria County District Attorney’s Office.

An investigation revealed the law firm never represented the PTO organization and was unaware of the 2015 check. 

PTO officials said they didn’t realize the money was missing until this spring, noting that they believed their funds were low because fundraising had dropped off.

As treasurer, Anderson oversaw the group’s books and was often one of two people who signed the group’s checks.

Investigators did not divulge how the $26,000 was spent.

PTO members Josh Fosbrink and Christina Fosbrink and Westmont Hilltop School District Superintendent Thomas Mitchell allegedly told investigators that Anderson reached out to them in early May, acknowledging the money was taken and that she wanted to settle the matter, maintaining she would have her attorney send $20,000 to the group and add another $5,000 “if charges are not filed.”

Charges were instead filed Tuesday.

In a Facebook message to the district community Wednesday, Mitchell credited the PTO’s parent members for working closely and cooperatively with investigators to solve the case.

“The PTO will seek to recover the lost funds,” he said, calling the incident “unfortunate.”

The organization works as a separate fundraising arm of community members to support elementary school programs and needs.

Mitchell wrote that the PTO group is focused on improving its financial oversight process to prevent similar occurrences from occurring again.

He said he’s hopeful the community will continue to support the group and get involved.

Online court records indicate Anderson was jailed following her arraignment Wednesday before District Judge Susan Gindlesperger after failing to post bond, which was set at 10 percent of $25,000.

She is being represented by Ligonier attorney Corey J. Riddell, who did not return a message Wednesday for comment.

 

David Hurst is a reporter for The Tribune-Democrat. He can be reached at (814) 532-5053. Follow him on Twitter @TDDavidHurst and Instagram @TDDavidHurst.