GREENFIELD — Fortville Elementary School will have to wait a little longer to be repaid the money police say the school’s former parent-teacher organization treasurer swiped from its funds.
Minutes before Marcy Smitley of McCordsville was scheduled to plead guilty (she faces 14 counts of forgery and one count of theft) on Wednesday, her attorney asked the judge to give his client more time to pull together the funds she would owe the school to replenish its PTO fund, said Hancock County Deputy Prosecutor John Keiffner.
Smitley was arrested in May after Fortville Elementary School officials reported $6,700 was missing from their accounts, according to police. Smitley deposited at least 14 school checks into her personal account without the knowledge or approval of the PTO, charging documents state.
The plea deal Smitley had planned to sign Wednesday required her to immediately pay a portion of the money back to the elementary school, Keiffner said. But Smitley recently filed for bankruptcy, and her attorney reported to Hancock County Superior Court 1 Judge Terry Snow Wednesday that Smitley no longer had enough money to comply with the agreement.
Snow granted Smitley’s request to delay the proceedings and rescheduled the hearing for Oct. 21.
Details of the proposed plea agreement were not made public.
Fortville Elementary officials began an internal investigation after the Daily Reporter alerted them to a criminal case filed against Smitley in Marion County earlier this year.
In February, Smitley was charged with 20 counts of forgery and one count of theft after board members of the Indianapolis homeowner’s association she had been hired to supervise contacted police to report more than $120,000 had been stolen from association accounts during the course of four years.
Smitley was asked to step down from school’s PTO after she was arrested in Marion County, and the school’s internal investigation revealed thousands of dollars were missing from PTO accounts.
Since the time, the Hancock County prosecutor’s office has been working to put together an agreement that would force Smitley to repay what she owes the school, Keiffner said. But Wednesday was not the first time Smitley has asked the court more for time, and if she tries to delay the process again, Keiffner said he will halt negotiations and take the case to trial.
“The most important thing to me is for the kids in that school to get that money back,” Keiffner said.
Waiting for the case to play out has been trying for the school’s officials, said Mary Jo Adams, the president of Fortville Elementary’s PTO.
The school was forced to cancel its annual Vikings Fest — one of the PTO’s largest fundraisers each year – because of insufficient funds, Adams said, and the organization’s leaders are uncertain of what else the criminal case might impact.
“It’s been a very frustrating and difficult experience,” Adams said. “I’ll be glad to see it brought to a close.”
Smitley’s case in Marion County is pending. Smitley returns to court there Oct. 8.
Each of 36 charges Smitley faces between the two counties is a felony carrying a penalty of six months to 2½ years in jail and up to $10,000 in fines.