Ex-Ridgeview parent-teacher president found guilty of theft in plea agreement with diversion

Becky Campbell • Updated Jun 29, 2018 at 1:57 PM

A former Washington County elementary school’s Parent-Teacher Organization leader pleaded no contest to a theft charge this week in Criminal Court.

In the plea, Annisa Moats did not admit she was guilty but agreed prosecutors had sufficient evidence that could convict her. One piece of that evidence was a $10,000 check a relative wrote to the PTO to repay money Moats took over a two-year period.

Prior to paying that money, the theft had not been reported. The organization contacted the Washington County Sheriff’s Office, which requested the Tennessee Comptroller’s Office investigate.

“Her paying the money definitely initiated the investigation,” Assistant District Attorney General Erin McArdle said outside the courtroom.

According to information released at the time of Moats’ arrest, she had paid the $10,000 in August, after her term as president was over.

The comptroller’s office report released in March said Moats stole at least $9,625 from the PTO between January 2015 and January 2017, mostly by writing unauthorized checks from the PTO’s account made payable to “cash.”

The report also alleges Moats used the organization’s funds to buy cigarettes, a swimming pool mat and other items for personal use. She concealed the theft by not turning over bank statements and other financial information to the organization’s treasurer and other officers, the report says.

McArdle said some of the personal purchases Moats made were included in other valid purchases, but there were other instances where she just took money for her own use.

“She would buy some things legitimately, then throw a carton of cigarettes in for herself or other things for her personal use,” McArdle said.

In December, comptroller’s investigators said Moats admitted to using the funds for personal benefit.

Moats was indicted in February by a Washington County grand jury on one count of theft over $2,500.

In a March news release announcing Moats’ arrest, Washington County Sheriff Ed Graybeal said a family member of Moats wrote the check and gave it to the new president of the PTO, stating Moats would not survive jail. The check was collected as evidence.

The PTO is a separate entity from the Washington County School System. It is a group of teachers and parents who organize fundraising efforts in order to support programs and purchase needed equipment and services not covered in the school budget.