An Oceanside mother who was arrested in March of 2012 and charged with stealing more than $5,000 from the PTA at Oceanside Elementary School No. 8, the Fulton Avenue School, was sentenced on Sept. 11 to pay restitution of $5,744 to the organization. In addition, she was placed on five year’s probation.
Cindy Sommer-Fleissig, 45, was charged with third-degree grand larceny, a class D felony, and faced up to 7 years in prison.
Court records show that she will do no jail time, nor will she have to perform community service, but she will have to return the money, something that pleases current PTA officials.
“We are thrilled with the sentence imposed by the court, which returns money to the Fulton Avenue PTA and to the students of School #8,” said co-presidents Lori Chodash and Lisa Dempsey in a statement. “It is a sad event when one of our once-trusted members is charged with stealing from us. The law was broken, however, and Mrs. Sommer-Fleissig must be held accountable for her actions.”
The two PTA officials added, “We are pleased with the efforts put forth on our behalf by the Nassau County District Attorney’s office in the prosecution and would also like to thank Tony Iovino, who represented the PTA pro-bono.”
Prosecutors said the money Sommer-Fleissig stole between November 2010 and August 2011 was supposed to go toward a retirement party for the outgoing elementary school principal, among other things. A member of the PTA who helped with fundraising and membership, Sommer-Fleissig also received check reimbursements for items she said she bought but never did, including New York Knicks tickets, office supplies and school awards, prosecutors said.
She was convicted earlier this year of using part of the money to pay for an American Girl-themed party for her daughter.
The alleged theft was uncovered in the fall of 2011 when a new PTA administration reviewed the group’s finances and found numerous discrepancies in its accounts. The PTA then referred the matter to the district attorney’s office for investigation, prosecutors said.
“It’s bad enough that this defendant thought she could get away . . . [with] stealing from a volunteer organization, but to victimize the young students and dedicated faculty of an elementary school is outrageous,” said Nassau District Attorney Kathleen Rice in a statement.
Iovino said that the PTA has improved its record-keeping since August. “It’s a terrible feeling,” he said. “They were betrayed by someone that they trusted.”