Crime

Former PTA vice president at Fircrest school pleads not guilty to theft

A former PTA co-vice president at a Fircrest school told police she stole $8,500 because she was behind on her bills, according to court documents.

Bertha “Berta” Charity, 41, pleaded not guilty last week to first-degree theft in King County Superior Court.

Renton and Kent police are conducting the investigation because Charity allegedly withdrew money from the Whittier Elementary School PTA account at bank branches in those cities.

The other PTA vice-president noticed suspicious withdrawals this summer and tried to get in touch with Charity, who refused to return her phone calls, according to charging papers.

When Charity failed to respond to a letter mailed to her June 10 asking for her resignation and a return of the money, the PTA filed a police report.

Detectives checked bank surveillance cameras for April 29 and May 14, the days Charity made withdrawals from the account, and spotted her taking cash out, police said.

Although she initially tried to dodge police, a Renton detective eventually spoke to her on the phone.

“She admitted to hitting a rough patch with her family finances and could not make her rent,” according to charging papers.

Charity allegedly used stolen PTA funds to pay her bills.

Neither Charity nor members of the Whittier Elementary PTA could be reached for comment.

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