SAN DIEGO (KGTV)— The former PTA president accused of stealing thousands of dollars from her children’s school, pleaded not guilty at San Diego Superior Court Thursday afternoon.
Kaitlyn Faith Birchman stood next to her attorney with a blank stare, as she listened to the charges she faces: Felony embezzlement, grand theft, and writing bad checks.
“The defendant wrote a check to a vendor of a fundraiser from the PTA bank account, knowing that that bank was closed, and there was no money in the bank account,” Deputy District Attorney Kimball Denton said in open court.
From 2016 to 2018, Birchman served as the PTA president at Imperial Beach Charter School. During that time, prosecutors said she stole at least $14,000 from the school’s membership fees, book drives, and holiday fairs.
“These are all fundraisers, where children grades K through 8 participated in raising money for their school,” Denton said. “As parents, we send our children to school, and we trust that PTA’s and organizations are taking care of our schools and taking care of our children. And that is clearly not what happened here.”
Acting on an arrest warrant, Temecula Police took Birchman into custody on New Year's Day. She has since posted $25,000 bail.
Her public defender, Ray Aragon, asked the judge not to raise the bail amount because she has no criminal record.
“Should these charges be accurate, they clearly are an aberration from her normally law-abiding life,” Aragon argued.
In lieu of raising bail, the judge imposed three special conditions onto Birchman for the duration of the case.
- She must submit to a search at any time, even without a warrant.
- She must be at least 100 yards away from Imperial Beach Charter School.
- She must not take any part in any financial dealings through a school, PTA, or any volunteer activity.
“We just wanted these conditions in place to protect the safety of the community and to prevent her from any kind of future crime,” Denton said.
If convicted, Birchman faces a maximum sentence of three years, eight months.