MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – A Champlin woman pleaded guilty Friday to the charge of theft by swindle of over $35,000 after being accused of taking money from a Parent Teacher Organization (PTO) fund.

According to the Hennepin County Attorney’s office, 31-year-old Melissa O’Brien was the treasurer of Oxbow Elementary School’s PTO from September to December of 2012.

In these months, O’Brien stole more than $50,000 by withdrawing cash, writing checks to herself and family members and setting up direct payments to her creditors.

After a PTO check bounced in December, board members looked over bank records and discovered the theft.

O’Brien also neglected to pay the PTO’s bills and insurance coverage, which lapsed as a result. If she would have paid the premium, her malfeasance may have remained uncovered.

Her husband, Dusty O’Brien, also received checks from the PTO fund and wrote checks himself for more than $1,500. He has been charged with theft by swindle of over $1,000 and will be sentenced Sept. 4.

The Hennepin County Attorney’s office has decided to seek full restitution and push for Melissa O’Brien to serve a year in the county workhouse. Minnesota’s sentencing guidelines typically recommend probation for this particular crime.

Her next court appearance is July 11.


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