The former PTA treasurer accused of swiping nearly $100,000 from a Cobble Hill public school won’t face any jail time if she returns every dollar — and parents at the school feel like they’ve been victimized again.
Brooklyn DA Charles Hynes presented the prison-free sweetheart deal to Providence Hogan — who allegedly stole funds set aside for trips and after-school programs — during a brief court appearance on Monday.
“The deal was for full restitution and probation,” Hynes’s spokesman Jerry Schmetterer explained. “If she doesn’t accept the plea and goes to trial, she could get two to six years.”
But on Tuesday at the Henry Street school, parents were quick to blast Hynes’s use of the “Get out of Jail” card.
“It’s not fair because she stole, regardless of whether or not she returns it,” said Mitciacima Morisset, whose two daughters attend the school. “It’s not fair to us, the parents that contributed to the PTA.”
Not every parent was interested in setting up a lynching party — but the vast majority of those interviewed said that there are plenty of punishments that fit the alleged crime.
“At the minimum, she should do some community service along the lines of 4,000 hours or for a couple years rather than get a free pass,” said Tom Fuco, who has a son and daughter at the school.
Others backed hard time.
“She should serve in jail for what she did,” said school parent Clyde Babson. “Just like if you steal money from the bank, you need to serve time.”
As treasurer, Hogan had access to the PTA’s checkbook between May, 2008, and September, 2010. During that time, she cut checks to herself ranging from $6,000 to $52,000, prosecutors say.
On the withdrawal slips, Hogan, who owns the Providence Day Spa on Atlantic Avenue, claimed that the pilfered cash was being spent on class trips to the Brooklyn–Queens Conservatory of Music and Club Getaway.
But investigators say that she spent the funds on fertility treatments and the rent on both her home and her business between Smith and Hoyt streets.
Hogan admitted to stealing from the PTA in February after the group discovered a disparity on its tax returns. Hogan admitted stealing the $100,000, but prosecutors said only that she took slightly more than $82,000 — the amount Hogan will have to pay if she takes Hynes up on his offer.
Hogan’s attorney Stephen Flamhaft said his client was seriously considering the deal.
“We are working towards a resolution of the case,” Flamhaft told reporters following Monday’s court appearance.
An attorney representing the PTA said that the group was happy to learn it may get its money back, but declined to comment on the plea deal.
“We have no formal position [on Hogan being sentenced to jail] at this time,” said Maryana Zubok of Goodwin Procter, where a PS 29 parent is an attorney.
Hogan’s 9-year-old daughter still attends the school between Kane and Baltic streets, but the 43-year-old business owner has been barred from being a part of the PTA or any other school parent advisory group, said Department of Education spokesman Marge Feinberg said.
PS 29’s PTA collected more than $490,000 in donations, association dues and fundraiser revenues during the 2008 school year — the same year Hogan began pulling money from the group’s account.
More than $300,000 of that money was used to pay for after-school programs, skate nights and fourth and fifth grade trips, tax records show.
If Hogan accepts the plea deal, PS 29 parents could get the money as early as September.
It’s not the first time this month that an admitted criminal has done damage to PS 29, yet appeared to have used money to get away with it. After last Sunday’s vandalism of the school’s new playground, the guilt-stricken parents of the teens responsible for the crime ponied up $50,000 to replace the melted play equipment.
Given the context parents were eager to share their outrage.
“She stole, literally, so she should do jail time or something like community service,” said Jim Dillard, whose son attends the school. “There have to be consequences for what she did. We have to teach the kids that there are consequences.”
©2011 Community News Group
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