OCS secretary is charged with taking fund-raiser money

By Jay Braman Jr.
State police have arrested an Onteora High School employee and charged her with felony grand larceny and related charges, alleging that she stole over $9,000 that school groups accumulated by holding fund-raisers.
Elizabeth Sopata, 45, of Kingston was charged on Aug. 4. In addition to grand larceny, Sopata was also charged with forgery and falsifying business records, police said.
According to state police at Ulster, Sopata, who is secretary to the high school principal, was in charge of collecting and depositing proceeds from fund-raisers held by school groups. Between July 2008 and March, police allege Sopata stole $9,200 while handling the funds.
She was arrested following an investigation brought on by an audit that turned up discrepancies.
On Monday, school board officials had no comment on the matter.
“All I can say is that the board cannot comment on a personnel matter,” said board of education president Laurie Osmond.
Each year students and parent groups hold fund-raising events like car washes and bake sales to pay for extracurricular activities not covered by taxpayer funds in the school district’s budget.
District superintendent Dr. Leslie Ford said Tuesday that Sopata, a long-term employee, is currently on administrative leave.