ShareThis Page

Apollo-Ridge's ex-food services director charged with stealing $46,000

Chuck Biedka
| Monday, Jan. 28, 2013, 6:37 p.m.

A longtime Apollo-Ridge School District food services manager who is accused of taking almost $46,000 from the district has waived all charges to court.

Kathleen A. Smathers, 48, of Rome Street, Burrell Township, Indiana County, is charged with theft of more than $45,600 and receiving stolen property from the district, which has about 1,300 students.

Smathers, who worked for the district about 15 years until she resigned last fall, was charged Jan. 18 by Kiski Township police and she waived charges to court the same day.

She is free awaiting trial in lieu of $10,000 nonmonetary bond.On Monday, Armstrong County District Attorney Scott Andreassi said that a county detective and police met with Smathers and her attorney in October after first being contacted by the school district.

She resigned.

In an affidavit, police said Smathers told them she was unhappy her contract was reduced by two months to 10 months a year, resulting in a pay cut of about $10,000.She also said she was unhappy the district allegedly didn't credit her accrued vacation days. And while off work for surgery, she “did work at home for no compensation.”

School board president Gregory Primm said Smathers was once responsible for a summer lunch program at a school in Apollo, but those duties largely ended when the elementary schools were consolidated.

He said Smathers' interpretation about accrued hours is “much different” than the district's view.

School Superintendent Matthew E. Curci said officials are examining whether to hire a manager or a management company.

Steps have also been taken to address the shortage identified first by district auditors.

The affidavit alleges that Smathers admitted to taking about $50 a day during the 2010-11 school year and in 2011-12 she started to taking $100 daily.

She allegedly took money on each of the first two days of this school year, but then stopped.

Smathers said she used the food services computer to get the money. At the end of the day, she would do paperwork for money in the cash drawers and would enter a random student's account, void that transaction and mark in instead payment taken with the notation “void as prepayment taken.”

That took money from the district, not any students, the affidavit said.

School officials worked with district auditors to address what Smathers is accused of doing, Curci said.

“We will build on that,” he said.

The affidavit claims Smathers confessed to police because she “felt guilty” and “feels that the school auditors are closing in on her.”Smathers thought she took about $35,000 but a school district audit alleges she took about $10,000 more than that.

Andreassi said there was no agreement at the October meeting for Smathers to pay restitution, but full payment is anticipated.

He said the suspect hasn't previously been charged with criminal offenses.

A trial has not been scheduled.

School officials contacted the DA's office, and police and county detectives investigated after that.

Chuck Biedka is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-226-4711 or

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.