Montrose teacher accused in theft

Montrose Spanish teacher and former union treasurer Cheryl Arnold walks out of Montrose District Court Monday with her attorney, John Petorak, after being arraigned on theft charges. Arnold is accused of stealing nearly $95,000 from the Montrose Education Association over a three year time period. She was suspended, without pay, from her teaching position in March. STAFF PHOTO/STACI WILSON

BY STACI WILSON

AMontroseArea Jr.Sr.High Schoolteacher stands accused of stealing over $94,000 from the school district’s teacher’s union over a three year time period.

Cheryl Arnold, 53, Montrose, is the former treasurer of the Montrose Education Association. Police saidArnoldtook union funds from 2008 until November 2011 while acting in that position.

She listed as the Spanish 1 teacher on the district website.

Montrose Area School District Superintendent Michael Ognosky said, “Cheryl Arnold has been suspended without pay since the middle of March when we were apprised by the District Attorney’s Office of the ongoing investigation the potential embezzlement of union funds.”

Arnoldfaces felony counts of theft by unlawful taking and receiving stolen property along with one misdemeanor charge of misappropriation of entrusted property of government or financial institutions.

The Montrose Education Association (MEA) allegesArnoldstole $94,987.64 during the three years.

She turned herself into police at Montrose District Court Monday morning where she was arraigned by District Judge Jeffrey Hollister.Arnoldwas released on $10,000 unsecured bail.

A preliminary hearing was scheduled for May 31.

Arnold and her attorney, John Petorak declined to comment on the charges outside of the court.

Investigating Tpr. Mark Mulvey said union dues had not been paid and it was discovered in 2011 that a lot of funds were missing.

According to the affidavit of probable cause, a police investigation into the matter was sought by Montrose Education Association attorney William Hebe, of the Law Offices of Spencer, Gleason, Hebe and Rague, into the misappropriation of funds.

Hebe indicated thatArnoldhad taken a considerable sum ofMEAmoney for her own personal use.

He also provided police with a spreadsheet, prepared by the Pennsylvania State Education Association (PSEA) that showed the amount of funds converted for the time period that was under examination.

PSEA Business Manager Joseph Howlett told police thatArnold, in her position asMEAtreasurer, was required to submit the payment of annual dues to both PSEA and the National Education Association and that those payments were delinquent for the 2011 fiscal year.

According to the complaint, Howlett also told police that after reviewing theMEAaccount from 2008 to Nov. 5, 2011, there appeared to be many unauthorized transactions.

On March 7,Arnoldwas interviewed at the PSP, Gibson barracks with her attorney present.

According to the affidavit, she told police that while she acted as the union treasurer she was responsible for stealing some money out of the association’s account.

She said she had been informed byMEAPresident Tom Lucenti that over $94,000 was missing from the union account.

ButArnolddenied to police she had taken the amount reported.

She said she took money from theMEAfor personal items from January 2008 to December 2010 but reimbursed the association for what she took.

According to the affidavit,Arnoldalso admitted to police taking money April through August 2011 from the account but said she was unable to replace what she had stolen.

Arnoldestimated to police that she owedMEA$45,000-$50,000.