Two Pasco parents in one week arrested for stealing money from school PTSA accounts

Deputies: Thousands of dollars are missing

WESLEY CHAPEL, Fla. - Typically, Parent Teacher Student Associations are known for raising money for the students and the school. But this past week in Pasco County, the school district learned thousands of dollars have instead been going into the pockets of two PTSA officers at two different area schools.

"It's just kind of sickening.  They're taking money away from their own children," said Linda Cobbe, the spokeswoman for Pasco County schools.

The first incident happened at Seven Springs Elementary School.  Last week, Mara Slone, the PTSA president, was arrested when $2,825 disappeared from the school's PTSA account.

Then, on Tuesday, the Pasco County Sheriff's Office arrested Jocelyn Severson, 49.  Severson is the PTSA treasurer at Weightman Middle School.  Deputies say Severson stole approximately $5,200 between September 2011 and February of this year over the course of 14 different transactions.

"When we contacted her about it, she did admit to us that she had been suffering from some financial hardships and was using the money for personal reasons," said Melanie Snow, public information officer with the Pasco Co. Sheriff's Office.

According to Severson's arrest report, she would conceal the withdrawals from the school by changing the mailing address for the statements to her home address.  Deputies say she would then alter the statements, deleting her transactions and adjusting the balances.

Snow says the stolen money went to pay for things like Severson's Verizon, Verizon Wireless, and Progressive  Insurance bills.

Over the phone Thursday, Severson deferred all questions to her attorney, Jackson Hilliard.

Hilliard would not comment on the case.  He told ABC Action News he will provide a statement after the two meet next week.

Both Slone and Severson have been charged with a count of scheming to defraud.

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