PTA mom pleads guilty to theft, but won't serve time in jail

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By Jacquelyn Stoess Hack

A Liberty Elementary volunteer charged with theft of $13,300 from the school PTA won't serve jail time unless she violates probation.

Melanie Winkle, 39, 2701 N. Ky. 53, La Grange, faced theft and forgery charges for checks she wrote from the PTA account while serving as treasurer.

Winkle forged the PTA president's signature.

Assistant Commonwealth Attorney Berry Baxter said Winkle has made restitution with the PTA.

In exchange for a guilty plea, prosecutors agreed to amend Winkle's charges to theft under $10,000 and nine counts forgery.

It began with a $3,000 check Winkle forged on June 15, 2010.
Three weeks later, on July 3, 2010, she forged a $538.75 check, followed by three checks in August 2010, two checks in October 2010, one check in November 2010 and one check in February 2010.
Police launched an investigation after PTA board members found discrepancies in Winkle’s bookkeeping during the summer.

Winkle said the plea agreement allows her "to be accountable for my actions but refrain from going to jail" and also allows her to ""continue my counseling and continue healing."

Judge Karen Conrad ordered Winkle to continue weekly counseling sessions and to remain law abiding.

If she violates the judge's instructions, she faces three years in prison. She is required to attend periodic review hearings in Conrad's court, however, she does not require supervision by a probation and parole officer. 

Winkle's attorney, H. Patrick King, said Winkle’s children have completed elementary school and she is no longer associated with Liberty or the school’s PTA.

Winkle earned the school’s Torch Award for volunteerism during the 2008-09 school year.

Liberty Elementary Principal Jane Smith said Winkle had been a longtime volunteer at the school.

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