Rohnert Park police arrested the treasurer of the nonprofit Project Graduation organization Thursday on suspicion of embezzling money from the fund that provides an annual alcohol-free graduation celebration for graduating high school seniors. Mary Katherine David, 37, of Santa Rosa, was booked under $380,000 bail in the Sonoma County Jail and is scheduled to be arraigned for felony embezzlement Monday afternoon in Sonoma County Superior Court.
The Rohnert Park Department of Public Safety said about $55,000 was embezzled from the Project Grad bank account. Police said they found paperwork associated with the account when they searched David’s home, and David then admitted to taking money from the account. David also said the money was unrecoverable, police said in a news release. David has been treasurer of Project Grad since 2014. The president of Project Grad, Kathy Robinson, reported the embezzlement after a check written on the Project Grad account was returned in March because of insufficient funds, according to police. David said the bank had made a mistake but she would not meet with other Project Grad officers at the bank to review the account, police said. David told Project Grad officials there was more than $50,000 in the bank before the check was returned, police said.
When Project Grad officers were able to access the account without David they learned the account had a negative balance. David is suspected of writing checks to herself and not depositing money for the graduation celebration in the bank. This year’s Project Grad celebration is scheduled for June 2, from 9:30 p.m. to 5:30 a.m., June 3, at the Callinan Sports Center in Rohnert Park. Graduating seniors from Rancho Cotate, Technology, El Camino, Phoenix and Credo high schools in Rohnert Park attend the alcohol, tobacco and drug free celebration, which includes a casino, fortune teller, carnival, food, games and a DJ. Project Grad events are held to help prevent fatal DUI crashes involving graduating seniors.
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