Former PTSA president pleads no contest to taking money

By Cam Tran
Published On: Dec 13 2013 03:39:00 PM HST

Lavish vacations and a spending spree at big box stores. That's what a former Lanikai PTSA president did with the thousands of dollars she allegedly stole form the school.

HONOLULU -

Calm, cool and collected.  Former PTSA President Tonya Taylor said she would not fight charges she stole more than $50,000 from the Lanikai Elementary organization.

"No contest," said Taylor in the courtroom on Friday.

Click here to watch Cam Tran's report.

Prosecutors say she stole systematically, lining her pockets over the course of four years.

"The defendant made 51 debit card purchases using the PTA debit card from their account," said Prosecuting Attorney Chris Young.

Investigators say she wrote 16 checks to her personal account and numerous checks to her husband's account without his knowledge.  It was an abuse of power -- betrayal of trust.

Those charges included purchases at Costco, Macy's, Best Buy, the Apple Store and at the Hilton Waikoloa Village on the Big Island.

The charges weren't discovered until recently when she was no longer president.

"This case came to our attention because there was a change in administration of the PTSA and, because of that, questions were raised because some money that they were getting from Lowe's to build a structure for kids was never built and people started to question where that money went," said Young.

Though they don't dispute the charges, Taylor's defense attorney believes the amount missing is far less.

"There was no agreement today as to the amount of the loss and we're contesting that," said attorney Victor Bakke.

They say they need time to calculate just how much money disappeared, but think it will be well under $50,000.

"This occurred over a 4-year period so you can imagine the accounting is quite extensive since there's different types of currency transactions occurred like ATM, checks, withdraws, so we are still going through all of that," said Bakke.

Taylor is scheduled to be sentenced in June and that's when she'll find out how much money she owes.

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