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August 23, 2013

Ex-burser repays $171G taken from Penn Highlands

EBENSBURG — The attorney representing the former burser at Pennsylvania Highlands Community College showed up at the Cambria County Clerk of Courts office Friday afternoon with a certified check making full restitution for funds missing from the school.

An employee in the clerk’s office said attorney Daniel Lovette presented the check on behalf of Teresa Pelow.

The payment makes full restitution totaling $171,363 due the college, the clerk said.

Lovette could not be reached for comment Friday afternoon.

Some remaining fees are still outstanding involving costs and fines levied at the time Pelow was placed on the county’s Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition program for first-time offenders. People accepted into the program can clear their record if all conditions of their probation are met.

A college official said in a statement that full restitution from Pelow was expected Friday.

Pelow, 54, of the 100 block of Colgate Avenue in Westmont, was terminated by the college in 2012 after it was learned she had taken more than $170,000 from the college.

As burser, her duties included bookkeeping responsibilities and processing money received in the form of tuition, lab fees and related payments, Richland Township police said at the time of her arrest.

A forensic audit determined that on 452 occasions Pelow withheld deposits and altered a computer program to make it appear the deposits were made.

College officials discovered a large discrepancy in the amounts being collected and alerted police. Pelow was charged with six counts of theft by deception, theft by failure to make required disposition of funds and receiving stolen property.

She recently was placed on the ARD program for a 36-month period and will have her record cleared of the charges if all terms are met.

Kathy Mellott covers the Cambria County courthouse for The Tribune-Democrat. Follow her on Twitter at twitter.com/kathymellotttd.

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