Former teacher accused of stealing from PTO, Girl Scouts

OUTAGAMIE COUNTY, Wis. (WBAY) - A former Hortonville school teacher has been charged with three counts of theft, accused of stealing thousands from a Parent Teacher Organization and the Girl Scouts.

A criminal complaint obtained by Action 2 News details the accusations against Renee LaFleur-Linder of Greenville. The complaint was filed on Nov. 15.

On Feb. 9, investigators with the Outagamie County Sheriff's Office were called to Hortonville High School, where LaFleur-Linder was a teacher.

They were shown bank documents and receipts dating back to August of 2014 belonging to Greenville Middle School's Parent Teacher Organization. The documents showed purchases made with the PTO's debit card which were not authorized.

Investigators went to Greenville Middle School and spoke with the principal, who works as a liaison between the school and the PTO. He said the PTO is funded through fundraisers, including pizza, cookie dough, and t-shirt sales.

Those funds are used for student activities and resources for teachers. The principal said he was first made aware of the discrepancies when another PTO member told him there were problems with the finances. The member said LaFleur-Linder had been the only person with access to the account, as she was the treasurer.

The woman said the PTO had not been getting full financial details from the suspect, and that the PTO had acquired a debit card. The PTO did not have a debit card prior to LaFleur-Linder becoming treasurer.

Investigators interviewed other PTO members. One said that LaFleuer-Linder told her that she had moved $1,000 into a money market account and made interest off it. However, the PTO member went to the bank and was unable to locate a money market account or savings account with that money.

The PTO member said bank statements showed unauthorized purchases from two apparel companies and a local bar.

According to the criminal complaint, LaFleur-Linder admitted to misusing the PTO debit card. She said she purchased things from an apparel company because, "I wanted some new clothes and I didn't want to put it on my credit card." She said she had some credit card debt and "wanted to purchase some clothes without her husband finding out," according to the criminal complaint.

The complaint states that LaFleur-Linder also made two ATM withdrawals for $500 each from the PTO card.

She admitted to investigators that there was never a money market account.

The criminal complaint states that there were 57 unauthorized transactions from the PTO account totaling $7,040.60.

Investigators learned LaFleur-Linder was also a leader for a local Girl Scouts troop. They found she had two debit cards which belonged to two different troops.

A representative with the Girl Scouts told investigators about questionable transactions from 2013-2016.

The criminal complaint states unauthorized charges for one of the troop debit cards totaled $3,680.48 during this time.

Unauthorized charges for another troop's card totaled $1,921.05 during this time.

LaFleur-Linder told investigators that she was the only person to handle finances for the Girl Scouts at this time. She had four cards in her possession: one personal, one for the PTO, and two for the Girl Scouts.

The superintendent of the Hortonville School District says LaFleur-Linder resigned February 11th, a day after she was questioned by authorities about the purchases.

Action 2 News attempted to speak to her Wednesday but she didn't answer the door.

The Fox cities United Soccer Club, of which LaFleur-Linder is secretary, released this comment to Action 2 News.

"We are confident that Fox Cities United Soccer Club funds have not been compromised," Fox Cities United Soccer Club President Traci Chisholm said. "We have checks and balances in place to protect club funds."

Online court records shows LaFleur-Linder has an initial court appearance scheduled for Dec. 5.



 
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