The former president of Cumberland Elementary School’s Parent Teacher Organization in Nashville stole nearly $18,000 from the school, according to a new audit from the Tennessee Comptrollers’ Office.
This year the Davidson County Grand Jury indicted that man, LaRon Bridgeforth, on one count of theft over $10,000, auditors wrote.
“The investigation began after the Metro Nashville Public Schools audit department reported questionable transactions in the PTO bank records. After the discovery of these transactions, Cumberland Elementary PTO operations were suspended,” according to a press release from the Comptrollers’ Office.
Bridgeforth, auditors went on to say, stole at least $17,724.80 over a two-year period beginning in October 2014.
“The majority of the cash ($17,025) was withdrawn from the PTO bank account and kept by Bridgeforth for his personal use. In one instance, he withdrew $1,000 while vacationing with his family in Florida,” the audit said.
“Bridgeforth also used nearly $700 of the PTO’s money to purchase at least two gift cards. These gift cards were also used for his personal benefit.”
In a statement Tennessee Comptroller Justin Wilson said state law requires school support organizations, such as PTOs, safeguard its finances.
“In this situation, more oversight was needed,” Wilson said.
“This includes separating financial responsibilities and retaining adequate documentation for spending and withdrawals.”
As reported, members of the Tennessee Comptrollers’ Office say they had far fewer city and county audit findings in Fiscal Year 2017 than they did the previous fiscal year.
In Fiscal Year 2016, the office had 383 audit findings spread across the 90 Tennessee counties. The following fiscal year, however, the office had 338 findings in those same 90 counties, said Comptroller spokesman John Dunn.
Dunn told The Tennessee Star he and other Comptroller officials credit auditors and investigators for finding problems. But Dunn also said he credits programs such as MTAS’ Certified Municipal Finance Officer program and CTAS’ Certified County Finance Officer program, which help to develop competent finance officials in Tennessee’s cities and counties.
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