SULLIVAN COUNTY, Tenn. (WJHL) – A former PTO president at a Sullivan County elementary school has pleaded guilty to theft, according to the Tennessee Comptroller of the Treasury’s office.
A release from the comptroller’s office states Misty Ritchie pleaded guilty to one count of theft of property over $10,000 and one count of forgery. Ritchie previously served as the PTO president at Indian Springs Elementary School.
Ritchie’s charges stemmed from an investigation that found she had “misappropriated at least $11,016.63 in PTO funds while she was serving as the president from February 2020 through November 2020,” according to the comptroller’s office.
The release details two methods reportedly used by Ritchie to misappropriate the funds. Investigators said she made seven payments using PTO funds to her husband’s personal credit card account balance, totaling $10,016.63. In addition, the investigation reportedly found Ritchie had written a $1,000 PTO check payable to “Cash” and then used that money for her own benefit.
The comptroller’s office stated there were other “questionable PTO checks” that lacked documentation. Those checks totaled $3,750, but without supporting documents, the office was unable to determine if they were used for appropriate business or not.
Ritchie told investigators in April 2023 that she had misappropriated the funds due to her inability to work in 2020, according to the release. She left her position with the PTO in May 2022.
After pleading guilty, Ritchie was granted “judicial diversion relief” and was placed on supervised probation for six years. The comptroller’s office also reported Ritchie was fined $100 for each count and paid restitution in full before entering her plea.
“All school support organizations, such as PTOs, are required by law to ensure funds and property of their organizations are safeguarded,” said Comptroller of the Treasury Jason Mumpower. “In addition to not providing adequate oversight, PTO officers should also ensure invoices, vendor receipts, and other supporting documentation are acquired and retained to prevent the opportunity for misuse.”
The full report on Ritchie can be read on the comptroller’s website.