Crime & Courts
Ex-PTA treasurer of Polk school pleads guilty to theft
The former treasurer of an elementary school PTA accused of stealing more than $16,000 pleaded guilty Friday in a Polk County courtroom. Lisa Shirah, who was arrested in September, admitted guilt to four of the original 16 charges she faced in connection with the thefts from the PTA fund at Springhead Elementary School, near Plant City. In exchange for her plea, the Polk County State Attorney’s Office did not proceed with the other dozen charges. At her sentencing next month, Shirah is expected to be sentenced to 30 days in jail and five years of probation, said Assistant State Attorney Brian Haas.The 34-year-old already has repaid $16,678 that will be bound for the school. “It’s a good result,” Haas said. “We were able to ensure the restitution was paid in full, and also that she was punished for what she has done. “She will continue to be monitored while she is on probation,” Haas added, “and if she violates that, she could go to prison.” Gregg Kamp, Shirah’s attorney, said his client, the mother of two children, has the support of her family and her employer. He said her boss, a local dentist, plans to speak on her behalf at her sentencing. “She is very remorseful,” Kamp said. As part of the plea agreement, Shirah will not be allowed to have any contact with other former board members of the PTA or others at the school. She cannot have a job where she has a fiduciary duty, and she is allowed to have only one checking account that can be inspected at any time by probation officials or law enforcement. The dental assistant also must write a letter of apology to Springhead Elementary and the PTA. Shirah pleaded guilty to grand theft of $15,000 or more, uttering a forged instrument, forgery and criminal use of personal identification information. On one occasion, authorities said, she wrote a $3,500 check to herself for a spring fling event that never occurred. Another time, there was a $2,500 check made out to herself for a barbecue dinner that didn’t happen. The criminal charges were filed in Polk County because that is where Shirah cashed the checks.