Ann Paquette, who allegedly stole thousands of dollars from the Banting Elementary School Parent Teacher Organization for personal use, has been found guilty of theft and will be sentenced for her crime in March.

Paquette, 43, entered her no contest plea to the felony theft in a business setting charge during a hearing on Jan. 14 in Waukesha County Circuit Court. Judge Ralph Ramirez found her guilty, court records show.

She was originally accused of stealing about $26,000 from the PTO, but that figure has since been amended to reflect an unspecified amount greater than $2,500 to $5,000.

The plea hearing was held just days after news broke of the suspension of another PTO officer in Waukesha who has been accused of stealing about $14,000 from the Hawthorne STEM Elementary School's PTO.

A sentencing hearing for Paquette has been scheduled for March 4. The maximum penalty for her crime is 31/2 years in prison and $10,000 in fines.

Basis for charges

Paquette was charged last May after several months of investigation reportedly revealed that she had stolen thousands of dollars from the Banting PTO over about an 18-month period, beginning in July 2013 and ending in December 2014.

According to a criminal complaint, Paquette admitted to stealing from the PTO, saying she would often use her own money to pay for things associated with the organization then reimburse herself with PTO funds.

Paquette also said in the complaint that she had in the past taken money directly out of a cash box after some PTO events and sometimes did not pay the money back.

A victim impact statement from the PTO sent to a judge about three weeks after Paquette was charged said that Paquette's "actions will affect the PTO's ability to fundraise and help the students and teachers for years to come."

"Ms. Paquette took advantage of the trust we, her friends on the PTO board, had in her," the statement said. "She manipulated and lied to us."

The letter concluded by saying that "ultimately, Ms. Paquette's selfishness and dishonesty has hurt kids."

Separate PTO incident

According to online court records, no charges have been filed (as of Tuesday afternoon, Jan. 19) against the suspended Hawthorne PTO officer, who has not been identified.

However, according to a letter from a PTO representative to Hawthorne Elementary School parents, the organization confronted the individual, who has taken full responsibility and is cooperating with the investigation.

"At this time we have worked out a repayment agreement making sure the funds would be repaid before the end of the school year," the PTO's memo said.

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