Berea Police arrested two former parent officers of the Foley Middle School Parent-Teacher Organization on Monday for allegedly misappropriating PTO funds.

Oscar Combs, 43, of KY 1016, who was PTO president for the 2007-08 school year, and Michelle Couch, 35, of Candlewood Drive, who was treasurer, were each charged with theft by unlawful taking, above $300.

Conviction of the Class D felony is punishable by one to five years in prison.

The investigation continues, but “several thousands of dollars” were allegedly taken, police spokesperson Capt. Ken Clark said, “well in excess of the $300” required to merit a felony charge.

Both remained lodged Wednesday morning in the Madison County Detention Center under $3,000 cash bonds, according to a jail spokesperson.

They are scheduled to appear in Madison District Court at 9:30 a.m. Wednesday.

Combs was the 1989 Republican candidate for Madison County jailer.

According to a news release from Madison County School Superintendent Tommy Floyd, Foley Principal Arno Norwell became suspicious in April with when PTO “fundraising expenditures did not match with deposits.”

The principal asked county schools finance director Debbie Frazier to audit the account. She reported that fundraising expenses were paid from the account, but deposits were “either insufficient or non-existent.”

Norwell then made the incoming PTO officers aware of the situation in the spring. The school board’s finance department investigated over the summer and allegedly determined that “discrepancies existed.”

In September, “Norwell advised the current PTO officers to consider” presenting the information to the Berea Police.

After investigating the PTO’s account and interviewing Combs and Couch, Clark said Berea Police Sgt. Danny Brewer “determined he had probable cause to charge them both with theft by unlawful taking.”

Floyd said, “Mr. Norwell acted as soon as he became aware of the problem and took appropriate steps to resolve the issue.”

According to the release, Norwell is working with the new PTO officers to develop monthly financial reports.

Frazier also is providing training for school booster organizations leaders to implement checks and balances to ensure proper accounting and use of their funds.

“These are organization funds and not school funds,” Floyd said, “but we ask these organization to provide school principals will a summary of their accounts each spring. That’s how Mr. Norwell discovered the discrepancy.”

Bill Robinson can be reached at or at 623-1669, Ext. 267.

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