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Probable cause statement for Stevens' arrest outlines theft of $8,061.27
The Bremerton Police Department has released the probable cause statement for Bremerton school board candidate Wendy Stevens' arrest.
The document lays out 14 findings, alleging that Stevens forged several checks and stole $8,061.27 from the Naval Avenue Elementary PTA. Several of the checks appeared to have the signature of Stevens' husband, Jason, but he denied signing them or having any knowledge of them.
A friend of Stevens' told investigators that Stevens estimated she had embezzled between $9,000 and $10,000 to make mortgage payments and buy things for her children.
When Stevens was contacted at her residence by BPD Det. Sgt. Kevin Crane Friday, she told him that her attorney advised her not to answer any questions. Stevens was transported to the Bremerton Police Department where she was placed under arrest for forgery and first-degree theft. She remains in custody at the Kitsap County Jail on $100,000 bail. Her first court appearance is likely to be sometime Monday.
Here is a verbatim look at the 14 findings outlined by Det. Sgt. Crane in his probable cause statement:
Barbara Swainson and Anne Gambardella reported to the Bremerton Police Department a Theft from the Naval Avenue Elementary PTA which they had discovered. Barbara Swainson is the current Naval Avenue Elementary PTA President. Gambardella is the current President of the Bremerton Council Parent Teacher Student Association. The Naval Avenue Elementary is in Bremerton, Kitsap County, Washington.
Wendy Stevens was the Naval Avenue Elementary PTA President during 2012 and up until June 30, 2013. During this time Wendy had control over the PTA bank accounts and the checkbook for the PTA account. The PTA checking account requires two signatures on all checks issued. Jason Stevens (Wendy’s husband) was reportedly the PTA Treasurer from July 2012 to July 2013.
Swainson became the PTA President effective July 1, 2013. After becoming PTA President, Swainson had a difficult time obtaining the PTA “Books” from Stevens. Stevens reportedly made excuse after excuse and delayed turning over the PTA “Books” to Swainson. In September, others became involved and eventually Stevens released the PTA “Books.”
After receiving the PTA “Books” Swainson and Gambardella began to audit the bank records. Several discrepancies were noted. The following items were noted:
Finding No. 1: Check No. 1880 was written to Wendy Stevens, signed and endorsed on 09/02/2013 by Wendy Stevens in the amount of $439.67. The check was then cashed on 09/10/2013. The dates of this check being signed, endorsed and cashed are after Wendy Stevens was no longer a board member of the Naval Avenue PTA; therefore, she did not technically have authority to write this check after 07/01/2013. The documentation provided by Wendy Stevens indicates this payment was to reimburse Wendy for money she paid to the company for the Naval Avenue yearbooks. The company`s name is "Remember Me". According to the fundraising company the account remains overdue. It should be noted the check in this case was for $439.67 and I noted that no payment in that amount was ever made to the company Remember Me. Previous payments had been made, but $425.93 remains outstanding and due to the company “Remember Me.” Therefore, the total loss estimated in this finding is $439.67. It is unknown who the second signer is on this check.
Finding No. 2: 01/22/2013 the Kitsap Credit Union issued $500.00 cash back to Wendy Stevens when she made a deposit. There is no documentation provided for this cash indicating it was returned to the account or being used for other expenditures of the PTA. The total deposit passed was $3,239.81 and cash returned was $500.00. The total loss in this finding is $500.00.
Finding No. 3: On 12/21/2012 Wendy Stevens wrote a check to her husband, Jason Stevens on Check No. 1842 in the amount of $500.00. The documentation to justify this check is not valid. The documentation provided to account for this particular check was a carbon invoice from Unique Experience. The invoice had a handwritten note at the bottom stating $500.00 paid to Unique Experience for deposit on spirit wear. When the Naval Avenue PTA requested an accounting from Unique Experience, it found that the balance for the school year to be a total of $3,459.51. This balance was paid with Check No. 1801 in the amount of $416.00 and Check No. 1809 in the amount of $3,043.51, therefore, making the total payment of $3,459.51. Swainson then confirmed with the owner of Unique Experience an additional $500.00 was never paid to his business, therefore, the $500.00 from this particular check is not accounted for. Jason Stevens reported the second signature and the endorsement were not his signature. Jason Stevens had no idea what this check was for and never received the $500.00 funds from this check.
Finding No. 4: In October of 2012 the Naval Avenue PTA had a fundraiser through a company by the name of Great American Fundraising. The total net profit to Naval Avenue PTA was $4,620.09. There were seven separate deposits consisting of checks which totaled $9,267.15. However, the gross receipts from this fundraiser totaled $10,853.50 leaving a discrepancy of $1,586.35. Swainson reported all funds were turned over to Wendy Stevens for this fundraiser and they noted all the deposits made to the PTA account should have brought in the $10,853.50, but only brought in $9,267.15. There were no cash deposits and they normally have about 20% of the payments made in cash, so it is estimated that the loss of $1,586.35 was likely cash payments that Stevens had received and remains unaccounted for.
Finding No. 5: 06/18/2012 Check No. 1790 was written to Wendy Stevens in the amount of $506.64. The check was signed by Wendy Stevens and also has a second signature. The second signature is difficult to read, however I thought it may have been Sara Newvine’s or Jason Stevens’. Both Jason Stevens and Sara Newvine report the second signature on this check is not theirs. The check does not have any supporting documentation, nor are there any notes in the memo field.
Finding No. 6: 06/30/2012 Check No. 1796 was written to Jason Stevens in the amount of $1,000.00. The check does not have any supporting documentation, but the memo field indicates the check was for services. The check had a second signature on it, believed to be signed by Sara Newvine; Wendy Stevens was the primary signer on this check. Sara Newvine later examined this check and the signature. Newvine reported this was not her signature; however it was a reasonable imitation of her signature. Newvine’s signature was forged on this check. Jason Stevens was later questioned about this check and had no idea what this check was for. Jason Stevens reported no knowledge about this check and reported the endorsement was not his signature. The check was cashed on July 23, 2012.
Finding No. 7: Check No. 1797 was written to Wendy Stevens on 06/30/2012 in the amount of $500.00 and cashed on August 23, 2012. It is unknown who the second signer is on this check. Jason Stevens reported it was not his signature and had no knowledge about this check. The check does not have any supporting documentation or information justifying the expenditure.
Finding No. 8: 07/17/2012 Check No. 1798 was written to Wendy Stevens in the amount of $689.52. The check was signed by Wendy Stevens and had a second signature in the name of MaryJane Magnenat. Magnenat was the former treasurer for the PTA. Witness Magnenat later examined this check and declared this was a forgery of Magnenat’s signature. Magnenat did not sign this check. The check does not have any supporting documentation or information in the memo section justifying the expenditure. The check was cashed August 27, 2012 at the Kitsap Credit Union in Kitsap County Washington. The total loss to the PTA is $689.52.
Finding No. 9: In April of 2013 the Naval Avenue PTA had a fundraiser through the Great American Fundraising Company. The total net profit to the PTA should have been $1,543.40. The total gross receipts totaled $3,895.50. The eight separate check deposits totaled $2,951.65 leaving an actual profit for the PTA of $943.85. Taking the $943.85 from the calculated profit of $1,543.50, the estimated loss in this finding is $599.65. Again, Swainson and Gambardella noted that no cash deposits were made and, again, normally an estimated 20% of the funds come in the form of cash and, therefore, they estimate this $599.65 was likely cash taken and never deposited into the PTA account.
Finding No. 10: On 07/26/2013 Check No. 1879 was written to Wendy Stevens in the amount of $353.10. The documentation indicates it was a reimbursement for pizza from Little Caesar`s for a staff appreciation event. Pizza was never supplied for the staff appreciation event. This check appears to be written, signed and endorsed by Wendy Stevens. The second signature appears to possibly be signed by Jason Stevens. Jason Stevens reported this was not his signature and must be a forgery. The documentation for this item is illegible and apparently from a fire or heat of some sort. This check was written after 07/01/2013 when Wendy Stevens was no longer an authorized representative of the Naval Avenue PTA. The check appears to be cashed on or before the posted date of 8-12-2013. The loss in this finding is $353.10.
Finding No. 11: 12/04/2012 Check No. 1835 was written to Wendy Stevens in the amount of $362.41 and cashed prior to 12-7-12. Notes on the check indicate it was for Family Night. There are not receipts or documentation to support this expenditure. The second signer on this check is unknown.
Finding No. 12: 02/18/2013 Check No. 1854 in the amount of $265.41 was written to Wendy Stevens, signed by Wendy Stevens and cashed 2-20-13 at the Kitsap Credit Union in Kitsap County. The second signer on this check is unknown. The documentation indicates it is reimbursement for money paid towards enrichment expenses. Swainson and Gambardella advise they have no idea what "enrichment expenses" is. They did find six separate receipts, three of which appear to be possibly legitimate reimbursements. However, the other three from Fred Meyer, Albertsons, and Famous Dave`s are not legitimate expenses. The Fred Meyer receipt was for $54.29, which was ripped. The Albertson`s receipt was for $10.85 and it was dated after the check was written and cashed. The receipt from Famous Dave`s in the amount of $36.70 was also dated after the check was written and cashed. The estimated loss in this finding is $101.84.
Finding No. 13: On 02/14/2013 Check No. 1851 was written to Wendy Stevens, signed and endorsed by Wendy Stevens in the amount of $572.09. It was noted on the documentation provided indicating Backpack Brigade was the reason for this expenditure. Wendy Stevens is not a committee member of the Backpack Brigade. The total receipts from the four different transactions total $521.11. They include a Fred Meyer receipt which was ripped and not appropriate for the activity in the amount of $59.28. The Commissary receipt which was ripped and not appropriate for the activity was $192.64. The Fred Meyer receipt which was ripped and not appropriate for the activity was $69.92. The Winco receipt for charges that are not appropriate for the activity were $199.27. The receipts appear to include personal items. Most receipts were ripped on the bottom, destroying the dates and creating invalid documentation. Wendy Stevens was not authorized to make Backpack Brigade purchases as she is not a member of that committee. The total loss estimated for this finding is $572.09. The second signature on this check appears to possibly be Jason Stevens. Jason Stevens examined this check and said it was not his signature and had no idea why this check was written or what it was for.
Finding No. 14: 11/08/2012 Check No. 1823 was written to Wendy Stevens, signed and endorsed by Wendy Stevens in the amount of $350.00. The check was cashed November 9, 2012 at the Kitsap Credit Union in Kitsap County, Washington. A handwritten receipt was provided and the total shown on that receipt was $487.25. The handwritten receipt states the reimbursement is for a deposit for the Centennial. It is for picture printing at the Kitsap Historical Society and states no checks accepted. Swainson and Gambardella advised me that the Kitsap Historical Society never charged the PTA for this service. In fact, the Kitsap Historical Society donated their services for this project. The second signature on this check possibly appeared to be Jason Stevens’. Jason Stevens confirmed this signature was not his, although it looks like his signature. Jason did not recall anything about this check.
The total losses for Findings 1 through 14 come to $8,061.27.