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Woman accused of embezzling $18K student group

Posted: 6:48 PM, Sep 25, 2015
Updated: 2015-09-25 18:48:03-04
The treasurer of a local parent teacher non-profit is facing charges for embezzling nearly $18,000 from funds set aside for students and teachers.
 
Largo Police accuse 55-year-old Lisa Smajovits of stealing $17,804.09 from the Pinellas Preparatory Academy Parent Teacher Enrichment Group between 2012 and 2014. 
 
She paid back $7,899.17 after she was confronted, according to documents.
 
"She was not stealing money," Smajovits' attorney, Lucas Fleming said.
"She was in charge of getting money from a lot of different people, a lot of money was switching hands, going back and forth," Fleming added. "There were times where it was inadvertent where she was using money from one account to the other of her own, but she was replenishing those accounts and reimbursing those amounts."
 
Fleming says at one point his client asked for some oversight because of the confusion of where money was coming from and how much was coming in and going out. He says none was given.
 
According to arrest documents, she was using the PTEG's debit card to make purchases. Fleming says most of those were made at office supply stores.
 
Police say the case should serve as an example for other non-profits.
 
"The more hands in the pot, the more difficult it will be to perpetrate something like this," Lt. Paul Amadeo said.
 
"Duel signatures on checks are one way a lot of organizations will use to verify funds," Amadeo added. "Some use treasurers... that will accept the funds and a different person that will deposit it."
 
Another tip he says; have frequent audits.
 
It's unclear how the PTEG handled its funds. The president of the organization referred all questions to the Largo Police Department and State Attorney's Office.