Former Lanikai PTSA pres. sentenced to 1 year in prison

By Cam Tran
Published On: Jun 25 2014 07:25:46 PM HST

Judge sentences Tonya Taylor to 1 year in prison for theft and money laundering of $50,000.00 from the Lanikai Elementary PTSA.

HONOLULU -

A former Lanikai School volunteer will spend a year behind bars for stealing from the Parent Teacher Student Association.

Click here to watch Cam Tran's report.

Tonya Taylor pleaded no contest to embezzling $50,000 over a span of four years.

"I am truly sorry for the children, parents and teachers of the Lanikai School who have been negatively impacted by my behavior," said Taylor.

Tears rolling down her cheeks, this former Lanikai PTSA president faced the judge and apologized for her crime.

State investigators say Taylor used the organization's debit cards and checks for purchases at big box stores, visits to the Hilton Waikoloa Village and Pacific Beach Hotels and even made a withdrawal in Las Vegas.

"This is a very personal crime.  Miss Taylor was an alumni of Lanikai School and her children were attending school when these thefts occurred and it really hit us hard," said Lanikai School Ohana President Marnie Ackerman.

Ackerman says half of that money came from a grant from Lowe's to build a sun shade for the keiki while they eat outside.  Amidst the tears, Taylor said she takes full responsibility for the missing money and asked for forgiveness rather than punishment.

"Please give me a chance to make it right," said Taylor.  "My life was going in a downward spiral."

But, the judge chose punishment sentencing the 43-year-old to one year in prison for theft and money laundering and forcing Taylor to pay back the money.

"Our big concern was to have those felonies stick.  If she could steal from her own school, her own children's school who were attending there, what could she do to an unsuspecting organization?" asked Ackerman.

Taylor will also have to write a letter of apology to the school.  The PTSA no longer exists and volunteers started a new organization could the Lanikai School Ohana with stricter financial oversight and term limits for the president.

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