On Friday, July 13th, Jamie Amato was sentenced to two years probation in front of Judge Scott Moynihan at the Union County Courthouse in Elizabeth, NJ. Mrs. Amato, through her attorney, also handed over two checks totaling $8,659.80 over to the Robert Gordon PTA as restitution – one was a cashier’s check for $4,000.00 and the other was a personal check for the remainder of the amount. When Judge Moynihan asked if she would like to speak, Mrs. Amato said, “I would like to apologize for what I did. I am truly sorry.”
Jenn Jaskula, former Robert Gordon PTA president, was in attendance and was given the opportunity to speak. She stated that Mrs. Amato’s crime affected the PTA by not having their insurance paid and jeopardizing the organization’s CRI, which is New Jersey’s administration and enforcement of the Charitable Registration & Investigation Act (CRI Act). The CRI Act regulates the fund raising activities of most charitable organizations and all professional fund raisers, fund raising counsels, commercial co-ventures and solicitors conducting business.
“We started out the year almost $3,000 in debt,” Mrs. Jaskula continued, adding that Mrs. Amato’s actions divided the community and impacted school morale because parents were hesitant to become involved with the PTA. Mrs. Jaskula concluded by stating the most severe impact was to the children of Robert Gordon School, “The money was really taken from the kids.”
Judge Moynihan then sentenced Mrs. Amato to two (2) years of probation with a stipulation that if probation is violated, she would receive a five (5) year conviction. Although this was Mrs. Amato’s first indictable conviction, the judge referred to her prior offense of forgery in 2010. The judge took into account the mitigating factors presented to him, including that full compensation was paid to the victims and that there would exist a severe financial hardship that would be suffered by Mrs. Amato’s family if she were incarcerated. The judge stated that there was also a hardship put upon the Robert Gordon PTA, stating, “These are good people doing good things and it does cause serious harm when this much money is taken.”
The judge concluded that although Mrs. Amato admitted to her crime as soon as it was discovered, she did not come forward at first and it took a lengthy audit by the PTA for her acts to be uncovered.
There is a possible outstanding matter with regard to the amount that was claimed as restitution being disputed by Mrs. Amato’s attorney. A date of August 10, 2012 has been scheduled if the matter cannot be worked out by the parties.