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updated: 11/9/2010 1:42 PM

Woman ordered to repay Addison school PTA for theft

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The ex-treasurer of an Addison PTA was ordered Tuesday to repay $10,000 she stole from the parent group's coffers, leaving it on the verge of bankruptcy.

Danuta "Donna" Bielanski, 37, of Wood Dale, also must complete 30 months of probation, 80 hours of community service and outpatient alcoholism treatment, DuPage County Judge Kathryn Creswell ruled at a sentencing hearing in Wheaton.

Bielanski pleaded guilty in October to a felony theft charge stemming from her time as PTA treasurer for Indian Trail Junior High School.

Assistant State's Attorney Diane Michalak said Bielanski stole at least $10,000 from the organization, although PTA members estimate the figure at closer to $18,000.

Creswell said she considered Bielanski's lack of a prior criminal background in sparing her a 90-day jail sentence sought by prosecutors. But the judge said she did not take the crime lightly.

"All the children in school were affected by what happened," Creswell said.

Bielanski managed the PTA's books for two years before an audit led to her grand jury indictment in March, prosecutors said.

Defense attorney Salvatore Miglore said Bielanski was grappling with alcoholism, marital problems and her own financial hardships when the thefts occurred.

Bielanski apologized in court Tuesday, saying she accepted full responsibility for her actions.

"She realizes she violated a trust, and she wishes to get that trust back," Miglore said.

Creswell ordered Bielanski to make monthly $300 payments to an insurance firm, which has already reimbursed the PTA, until full restitution is paid.

PTA co-president Janet Hartnett said the organization supports activities such as dances, assemblies and seminars, and buys needed materials, including sports uniforms.

In the months following Bielanski's arrest, Indian Trail helped the PTA secure reimbursement from Addison Elementary District 4's insurance provider and avoid bankruptcy.

"We're very disappointed in the sentence," Hartnett said. "We thought she should have gone to jail."