McDonald theft investigation began at start of school year
By Ed Runyan
The McDonald Police Department opened an investigation Aug. 21 into an allegation from a McDonald School District administrator that Stephanie Hilbun may have committed theft against the Parent Educator Group.
Hilbun had just started the new school year one day earlier as a teacher’s aide in the district’s Roosevelt Elementary School, McDonald police say. She was placed on leave just after the investigation began.
Lt. Ryan Ronghi, a McDonald police detective, said by working with other members of the nonprofit parent-teacher organization, they were able to determine the amount of missing cash and money from checks Hilbun had written was $8,300.
The investigation is ongoing, however, Ronghi said.
The monthlong investigation culminated in Hilbun’s indictment and arrest Tuesday on charges of grand theft, theft in office and four counts of forgery.
She was arraigned Wednesday in Trumbull County Common Pleas Court and was released later that day from the county jail on $10,000 bond.
Ronghi said Hilbun, 41, of Nebraska Avenue, who was Parent Educator Group treasurer for three years, forged four checks by signing both her name and the name of the organization’s secretary. At least one of the checks was for a legitimate purpose. One was written for $450 to Hilbun. Others were written to “Card Services,” an individual and an indoor/outdoor amusement park.
Investigators believe Hilbun stole much of the money by withdrawing it from an ATM machine and taking cash that had been raised through PEG fundraisers.
The theft allegations date back to 2016, but the allegedly forged checks were written in 2017 and 2018.
Hilbun’s indictments say the reason she is charged with theft in office is because she “used her [job with the schools] in aid of committing the offense or permitted or assented to its use in aid of committing the offense.”
Hilbun worked the past two school years as a teacher’s aide at Roosevelt Elementary. She also worked in the district in April 2016 as a substitute secretary and continued in that role through August 2016, according to records in her personnel file.