A Penn Highlands Community College employee was arraigned Wednesday after authorities said she stole more than $156,000 from the school over five years.
Richland Township police charged Teresa Anne Pelow, 52, of the 100 block of Colgate Avenue in Westmont. She is accused of taking the money from January 2007 to February 2012.
In a court document, investigators said Pelow performed bookkeeping duties in her position as bursar.
“Acting as bursar is the intake person for the money coming in for tuition, lab fees and so forth,” Detective Thomas Keirn said.
“She had good opportunity to be able to transfer (money) and make it look like business as usual.”
Investigators said the college discovered a large discrepancy in funds that were being collected for tuition payments from students.
The college turned over the investigation to Richland police, who filed charges.
A forensic audit by Boyer & Ritter Certified Public Accountants & Consultants of Camp Hill showed Pelow allegedly did not deposit money into the Penn Highlands account on 452 occasions and altered a computer program to make it appear that all deposits were made, a court document reads.
The investigations “clearly show that the defendant orchestrated a large-scale fraud on her employer of over $156,000,” according to the affidavit of probable cause.
It is unclear how long Pelow had been working for the college or what impact the theft will have on the school.
Trish Corle, associate vice president for external relations, declined to answer questions on Wednesday. She instead referred to a statement.
“Pennsylvania Highlands Community College recently discovered the misappropriation of funds by an employee,” the statement says. “This individual, employed by the college at the time of the theft, was immediately terminated.
“Pennsylvania Highlands is committed to constant review and improvement of all fiscal processes and has taken this opportunity to examine procedures and protocols in all departments. We have the utmost confidence in our faculty and staff and remain committed to our mission of providing quality, affordable opportunities for learning that meet regional needs in a supportive student-oriented environment.”
Pelow was charged with six counts each of theft by deception, theft by failing to make required disposition of funds, receiving stolen property and dealing in proceeds of unlawful activities.
She was arraigned by District Judge Max Pavlovich of Richland Township and released on $10,000 unsecured bond.
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