Court date set for Padgett

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By Ben Bomberger, Reporter

INDEPENDENCE — A court date has been set for the former president of the Galax Elementary Student-Teacher-Parent Organization who was charged last year with embezzlement.

Terri Lynn Padgett of Hillsville faces 14 felony charges and 12 misdemeanor charges of embezzlement in Grayson County and will appear in court April 3. She was indicted on charges in April 2007.

Former Grayson County Commonwealth’s Attorney Dawn Davis-Cox told The Gazette last year that Padgett is accused of taking a total of $8,908.49 from the school’s student-teacher-parent organization, with amounts ranging from $22.54 to $1,405.75.

According to the indictment, Padgett is accused of taking money from the organization on 26 occasions between Sept. 1, 2005 and Oct. 31, 2006.

The indictment charges that Padgett did “unlawfully and feloniously, wrongfully and fraudulently use, dispose of, conceal or embezzle money received by virtue of her office with the Galax STPO.”

The non-profit, volunteer fundraising organization is not part of the Galax school system. It helps meet needs not covered in the city’s school budget.

The STPO raises money for projects that help Galax Elementary students, such as buying new playground equipment and items for teachers’ classrooms to help with instruction. It raises funds by holding events like yard sales and selling cookbooks, T-shirts and soft drinks.

Padgett is no longer affiliated with the STPO.

Cox said last spring that suspected embezzlement was discovered after STPO members contacted the Galax Police Department and requested an investigation. Detective Aaron Criner handled the case.

Cox said Padgett’s role as president, “gave her the best access. There was no oversight or check, until someone notices a discrepancy.”

According to the indictment, Padgett’s record includes only one prior charge, which was dismissed.

Padgett will appear before Grayson County Circuit Judge Brett Geisler to enter a plea.