Woman Is Charged In PTA Embezzling

By Tom Jackman
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, August 24, 2007

A Fairfax County woman who was formerly president of the parent-teacher association at her children's elementary school has been charged with embezzling $180,000 from the association, Fairfax police said yesterday.

Triantafilitsa Mattfeld, 46, also served a term as treasurer of the PTA at Navy Elementary School, on West Ox Road in the Fair Oaks area, police said, and she was an officer in the group from 2001 to 2006.

But the Navy PTA recently changed affiliations and became a PTO, or parent-teacher organization, police and school officials said. Such groups are formally independent from the school system and have their own bank accounts, though they work closely with teachers and administrators, Fairfax schools spokesman Paul Regnier said.

In June, security officers at BB&T bank noticed unusual activity in the old PTA account, Officer Eddy Azcarate said. He said the bank contacted the new PTO officials, who were surprised because they thought the account had been closed.

In late June, the bank contacted police, and detectives from a financial crimes unit took over, Azcarate said.

Police think the PTA funds were embezzled during a five-year period, Azcarate said. He did not know what happened to the money or how the PTA raised such sums.

Mattfeld, a mother of two, was arrested Wednesday and charged with two counts of felony embezzlement. She apparently was not taken into custody, according to Fairfax jail records, and she did not return a phone message left at her home in the Fair Oaks area yesterday.

Melissa McDaniel, current PTO president, sent a letter yesterday to Navy parents notifying them of the case. She said the group is performing its own investigation, is reviewing its internal controls and financial processes and has "adopted a set of strict financial controls to govern future PTO activity."

Navy parents switched from a PTA, which pays dues to and is part of a national organization, to a PTO, which is unaffiliated with any group, before the 2006-07 school year, McDaniel said in an e-mail.

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