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Former Connecticut principal accused of stealing money from student account

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A former Connecticut elementary school principal has been arrested, accused of taking more than $10,000 from students for her personal use.

Police charged Maria Moulthrop, 51, the former principal of Hopeville Elementary School in Waterbury, Conn., with second-degree larceny on Thursday. She's accused of spending $10,186.21 from an unauthorized school account on personal expenses, according to a Waterbury police report.

The parent-teacher organization account, organized by Moulthrop, was funded by selling $1 snacks, including Rice Krispy treats, ice-cream sandwiches and Slushies, to students at lunchtime, forbidden by a school-district policy. She would also sell the snacks at school fundraisers. 

Waterbury Police Department

Former elementary school principal Maria Moultrhop was arrested after the school discovered she set up a fake account, funded by money from students and going on a personal shopping spree.

The police investigation found that, unlike with other legitimate PTO accounts at the school, Moulthrop had the sole authority over how the money was spent.  A forensic audit on the account determined Moulthrop used the money to buy a flat-screen television, thousands of dollars in gift cards, an iPod, a digital camera, a backpack leaf blower and groceries, and to get her car fixed.

Moulthrop’s lawyer, Rachel Baird, told NBCConnecticut.com that much of the money was used on school-related expenses.

“She would use some of the money to reward students who had good attendance records," Baird said. “She would buy new books for the students because she knew that encouraged their reading.”  

Moulthrop resigned late last year after she was accused of inflating students' scores on standardized tests. During the state investigation, school officials uncovered questionable expenditures made while school wasn’t in session without permission from the Board of Education, so they contacted police.

Moulthrop was released Thursday on a $50,000 bond. She is scheduled to appear in court July 9.

This article includes reporting by msnbc.com's Andrew Mach and NBCConnecticut.com.

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