Tem. woman, former PTA pres., charged with embezzling thousands
TEMECULA — A Temecula woman who was president of Imperial Beach Charter School’s Parent-Teacher Association was arrested Wed., Jan. 2, and charged with embezzling about $14,000 from the organization, San Diego County Sheriff’s Financial Crimes Unit said yesterday after the woman’s arrest.
The alleged suspect, identified as 30-year-old, Kaitlyn Faith Birchman, was voted off the PTA last March, after other PTA members began noticing financial discrepancies and “months of missing funds” and unpaid bills from the school’s coffers.
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The alleged thefts occurred over a roughly year-long period, according to San Diego County Sheriff’s Sgt. Karl Miller. Birchman’s two children were reportedly attending the charter school at the time of the alleged thefts and financial abuse.
Suspicious about the financial discrepancies and missing funds, PTA members and a San Diego County sheriff’s deputy confronted Birchman last March, current PTA treasurer and former Coronado Police sergeant Elizabeth McKay said of the ongoing investigation.
Birchman “cooperated with the investigators and spoke to them about the alleged embezzlement,” said Miller.
“She said that it was just a misunderstanding,” McKay explained. “It was a lot of blind faith that they thought if she says everything is okay, then everything must be okay.”
After McKay took over as PTA president, she contacted the charter school’s bank and discovered the PTA’s account no longer even existed.
According to McKay, numerous vendors from previous years had been sending the PTA bills for unpaid services, all of which went unanswered and unpaid.
“There were thousands of dollars that hadn’t been paid,” McKay explained. “The checks…she had written to herself and signed herself.” There were also allegedly ATM withdrawals that weren’t anywhere near Imperial Beach or had anything to do with a PTA event, according to McKay.
As their investigation continued, investigators from SCSO’s Financial Crimes Unit issued an arrest warrant for Birchman in November.
Based on their investigation and warrant, Temecule PD officials arrested Birchman at her Temecula home on Cupeno Ln., this last Wednesday. She was booked into Cois Byrd Detention Center in Murrieta on suspicion of embezzlement, writing fictitious checks, and grand theft; and was later released to the custody of San Diego County Sheriff’s Department.
Birchman’s case will be tried in San Diego County, according to Miller, who said additional charges could be filed when her case goes to court.
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Trevor Montgomery, 47, moved last year to the Intermountain area of Shasta County from Riverside County and runs Riverside County News Source and Shasta County News Source. Additionally, he writes for several other news organizations; including Riverside County based newspapers, Valley News, The Valley Chronicle, and Anza Valley Outlook; as well as Bonsall/Fallbrook Village News in San Diego County and Mountain Echo in Shasta County.
Trevor spent 10 years in the U.S. Army as an Orthopedic Specialist before joining the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department in 1998. He was medically retired after losing his leg, breaking his back, and suffering both spinal cord and brain injuries in an off-duty accident. (Click here to see segment of Discovery Channel documentary of Trevor’s accident.)
During his time with the sheriff’s department, Trevor worked at several different stations; including Robert Presley Detention Center, Southwest Station in Temecula, Hemet/Valle Vista Station, Ben Clark Public Safety Training Center, and Lake Elsinore Station; along with other locations.
Trevor’s assignments included Corrections, Patrol, DUI Enforcement, Boat and Personal Water-Craft based Lake Patrol, Off-Road Vehicle Enforcement, Problem Oriented Policing Team, and Personnel/Background Investigations. He finished his career while working as a Sex Crimes and Child Abuse Investigator and was a court-designated expert in child abuse and child sex-related crimes.
Trevor has been married for more than 28 years and was a foster parent to more than 60 children over 13 years. He is now an adoptive parent and his “fluid family” includes 13 children and 15 – but soon to be 16 – grandchildren.