Teacher who embezzled $20K in band booster monies pleads guilty

LAS CRUCES, New Mexico - The Vista Middle School teacher accused of embezzling more than $20,000 from the Mayfield High School Band Parent's Association pleaded guilty Tuesday to stealing band booster monies.

Michele Ramsey, a past treasurer of the association, stepped down when the association's bank accounts were audited earlier this year. Ramsey was sentenced to 18 months probation and ordered to pay restitution in the exact amount of $20,630.

Ramsey reported she needed to pay an invoice to the Hubbard's and White's Music Stores in cash because the stores did not accept checks.  She said she had to cash association checks in order to withdraw the cash, a court document states.

At first, Ramsey failed to provide receipts of the checks, but later provided the association with receipts.  An investigation, with the help of the stores, revealed the receipts were "fictitious," the court document states.

Police said Ramsey had access to the association's four bank accounts. During fundraising events, she was allowed to withdraw money from the bank by cashing checks.

Ramsey was supposed to return the money withdrawn through the cashed checks in addition to any money generated through the fundraisers. She returned the money generated through fundraising but not the cash she withdrew before, documents state.

An internal audit revealed $20,630 was missing from the association's bank accounts and the missing funds were allegedly traced back to Ramsey, court documents state.

During a police interview, Ramsey denied the allegations, telling investigators, "I did not do that. I did not take that money. I worked just as hard as the kids to make that money ... I guess I need a lawyer."

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