Ex-school volunteer admits theft from PTA

A former parent-teacher association president pleaded guilty Thursday to one felony charge of theft for stealing up to $20,000 from the PTA.

According to terms of her plea agreement, Gretchen Blackford will have to pay back $32,000 to the Thunder Mountain Elementary PTA by the time of her sentencing.

Though Blackford pleaded guilty to a charge of stealing $1,000 to $20,000 between March 2005 and November 2007, she may be required to pay back more than the $32,000 to the PTA.

Deputy District Attorney Jason Conley will recommend to Mesa County District Judge Brian Flynn during Blackford’s April 9 sentencing hearing that she receive probation and no jail time. Flynn, however, can sentence Blackford to more restitution, up to 90 days in jail and up to two years in community corrections.

In 2006, Blackford was honored with the School District 51 outstanding school volunteer of the year award from Thunder Mountain Elementary.

When asked Thursday by Flynn why she wanted to plead guilty, Blackford replied emotionally, “Because I want to take responsibility for what happened and because I think it’s a fair plea.”

A couple of parents of elementary school students and some members of the PTA appeared at the hearing, as did supporters for Blackford.

Parent Beth Luevano said the group could have purchased books or taken students on field trips if the money hadn’t been stolen.


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