State police filed charges in Greene County against two women they accuse of having stolen thousands of dollars each from Carmichaels Area Music Boosters in 2016 and 2017.
A member of the agency’s Organized Crime Task Force filed the felony theft charges against Melanie Coss, 44, of Cumberland Township, and Chastity Ellsworth, 41, of Masontown, on Feb. 6. Coss was president and Ellsworth was treasurer of the booster club at the time of the alleged thefts, which police said came to more than $12,900.
Investigators interviewed each of the women in 2018 following an audit that the boosters had commissioned from an outside accounting firm. The audit showed money that was supposed to have been deposited in the club’s bank account following fundraising events during a period that covered parts of that year and the previous one.
Both allegedly admitted to having taken money that belonged to the group, but initially put the amount lower than police accused them of having stolen.
Ellsworth at first allegedly admitted to diverting $1,520 that Coss had given to her to deposit and instead kept for herself. But she also produced a deposit slip showing she’d repaid the club for that amount earlier in 2018. Coss allegedly said at first that she’d taken about $500, then made a written statement in which she claimed she’d kept $1,000 with the intention of returning it but failed to replace it. She later said she’d pay back $3,000 she’d taken. In early 2019, she acknowledged she’d taken $5,000 or $6,000.
In court papers, police said Coss had allegedly taken $6,985. Ellsworth is charged with having taken $5,943.
Other officers of the group allegedly told police that following fundraising events, Coss and Ellsworth would insist on counting proceeds themselves and refuse even to allow others in the area where they were working. Coss allegedly failed to turn over all the money to Ellsworth to be deposited. State troopers also accuse Ellsworth of failing to return money she withdrew to help set up fundraising events, and from the money raised during a late-2017 cash bash.
Neither woman has an attorney listed in court records. Each was arraigned Tuesday before District Judge Lee Watson. Both are free on $10,000 unsecured bond.