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$13,000 Taken from Vance Elementary PTA

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WAKE COUNTY — When you give money to the PTA, you expect it to be used to help kids and schools. But a former president of a Wake County PTA is accused of embezzling thousands of dollars from his organization.

Lamont Scott Preston, 30, has a rap sheet dating back to 1992, well before he became president of the Vance Elementary PTA.

This case raises questions about the standards used to pick PTA leaders and fuels the debate over whether PTAs should be handling large sums of money.

Most often PTA money pays for a good cause, like the new playground at Green Year-round Elementary. But there can be abuses.

The Wake Sheriff's Department has concluded that up to $13,000 was embezzled from the Vance Elementary PTA.

"It just breaks my heart to see that done," said Captain Kelvin Smith of the Wake County Sheriff's Department.

Investigators say Preston, who was president of the Vance Elementary PTA between August 1997 and October 1998, took the money over a four month period, starting in July by forging the former PTA treasurer's signature on checks.

"He was acting president, and he had access to the checks, and he forged names on the checks and cashed the checks for his personal use," explained Smith.

CCBI records show Preston has been convicted for forgeries before and served time in prison. He was even arrested twice for unrelated forgeries during his tenure as PTA president.

Lillian Stroupe, the president of the Wake County PTA Council says this is a perfect example of what can happen when local PTAs raise tens of thousands of dollars, noting that was not the original mission of the PTA.

"It has become out of control. There, to my knowledge, is no enforcement as to what PTAs are doing, can do and will do," said Stroupe.

What's worse, the Vance Elementary PTA situation is not the only one in Wake County.

"It is not an isolated case. There have been others in the past, and there are others in the present," said Stroupe.

For that reason, the Wake County PTA Council president supports having background checks of local PTA officers.

As far as the Vance Elementary case, the Wake County Sheriff's Department says if you have seen Preston, give them a call.


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