PA Teachers Union President Accused of Stealing $66K

Trust this Pittsburgh criminal defense lawyer: In the hierarchy of crimes that incite public outrage, those that involve children and animals are always at the top.

Also offensive to the masses: Crimes that involve the misuse of public trust or public funds.

Take a recent case out of Washington County – one that is already garnering headlines. 

Rae Dawn Grillo, 55, a former Charleroi Education Association union treasurer, has, according to news reports, been accused of writing checks from an account reserved for union strikes and other emergencies while she served as the treasurer for the Charleroi Area Education Association.

And not just, like, a small check (not that the amount makes it any better morally or criminally). The Monongahela woman is accused of stealing about $66,000 from that school fund.

Ms. Grillo has been charged with theft by deception and theft by unlawful taking – and both are felony charges.

The news story indicates that Grillo repaid the $66,000 from her personal checking account.

But here’s the thing: The damage was already done. To put it another way: If you steal $66,000 and then give it back, it doesn’t mean you never stole it to begin with – in the eyes of the law, or the eyes of the public. You have to get in touch with a Pittsburgh Criminal Defense Attorney for handling these kinds of cases.

Trust me, as a Pittsburgh criminal defense lawyer, I have represented clients who have been charged with similar crimes – and it’s always tough, both from a court perspective and from a personal one.

I’ve said before how difficult it is for clients to tell their family and friends why their names are in the police beat. It’s all the more difficult if you’re the subject of a bylined news story – one that may or may not appear on the front page of your hometown newspaper.

According to Pennsylvania law, people convicted of theft are levied with harsh punishments. You will be subjected to either misdemeanor or felony charges depending on the type and value of the property you have stolen. In both cases, the conviction for theft will be present on your criminal record, which might have very serious consequences on your life. Such information is accessible to the public, and if they reach your future employers, your hopes and chances of getting a job will be at stake. Or for those who are trying to enroll in college or get some professional license, it will seriously hinder your progress in the future. A felony conviction leads to more consequences, namely cancellation of your second amendment right to possess a firearm.

These severe outcomes of theft conviction make it mandatory to fight such charges. But, you have the right to be silent at every step of the criminal justice proceeding, including your interrogation, court appearances, and detention. So, exercise your fundamental rights and contact a reputable, experienced, and skilled criminal defense lawyer who will fight for your rights on your behalf. Your Pittsburgh Criminal Defense Attorney will help out throughout the court proceedings. A great attorney will make sure your rights and privileges are protected, and that the chances of a favorable outcome are optimized.

Source: Observer-Reporter

Update: August 28, 2015

Rae Dawn Grillo pleaded guilty to stealing the money. She appeared before Washington County Judge John F. DiSalle, and he sentenced her to nine months wearing a monitoring bracelet on her ankle and then four years and three months in an intermediate punishment program.

The theft was discovered when the Charleroi teachers got a bill from the Pennsylvania Education Association for unpaid dues totaling $7,262.

Grillo’s guilty plea was to the charge of theft by unlawful taking. Her original charges included two counts of theft by deception in addition to the unlawful taking charge. It’s common practice that a plea deal involves a smaller number of charges and that the one pled to is a lesser charge.

Part of Grillo’s sentence included 200 hours of community service and being banned from any position of trust or going to a casino.

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