VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. - Amanda Byrd, a former Lynnhaven PTA President, turned herself into police Wednesday night after seeing herself on WAVY News 10.
Police told WAVY.com they also received several tip calls.
Virginia Beach police say within minutes of WAVY News 10 at FiveWednesday, they received calls about Amanda Byrd. Byrd was wantedon 21 outstanding felony warrants. Police say she forged checks andbank withdrawals to steal more than $7,000 from the LynnhavenElementary School PTA.
Before 8 PM Wednesday night, Byrd showed up at the 3rdPrecinct.5
"She told the officer she'd seen herself on television andpeople had been calling her and she just wanted to get everythingbehind her," Virginia Beach Police Spokesman Adam Bernstein toldWAVY.com
WAVY.com spoke with Byrd's longtime friend, Lora Gilbert. "I'mkind of relieved that she turned herself in, but it's obviously notthe end of the story," Gilbert said.
Gilbert said Byrd called her a few days ago. "She told me shewas scared and she knew people were looking for her," she said.
Gilbert and Byrd were domestic partners for more than 14years.
"I love Amanda to death, but this woman is not the woman Iknew all those years," Gilbert said.
Gilbert said she supported Byrd in her PTA activities withLynnhaven Elementary School.
"The kids seemed to thrive on her being there," sheexplained.
Together, they raised Gilbert's grandchildren. And at onepoint both grandchildren went to the school. So Gilbert said theywanted to help the local school through fund-raisers.
She said the money paid for, "Field trips for kids if theirparents couldn't afford it, and extra teacher's supplies when theydon't have them and it's not in the school budget to get them."
After learning Byrd's parents bonded her out of jail, WAVY.comto their home in Williamsburg. Amanda Byrd was not there, but a manwho identified himself as her father said he could only reveal onething.
"I feel like she was falsely accused," he said.
Gilbert disagrees. She said during their relationship, Byrdwould take Gilbert's paychecks, deposit them, and pay the bills.But Gilbert said when Byrd left her in December of 2008, shelearned the home they shared was going into foreclosure.
"It's hard to figure out where the truth begins and where itends and what lies are in the middle of it all... When you stealfrom the PTA you're taking from every child and every family inthat school that participated in something, somewhere,somehow."
Byrd's charges carry a maximum total penalty of more than 200years in prison and $50,000 in fines.
Police say additional charges may come from their ongoinginvestigation.
Byrd is accused of stealing funds from the PTA using forgedchecks.
Virginia Beach Police Detective Jerry Cale says each one ofseven checks and cash withdraw statements represents a felony.
"For each one of the checks, I charged her with three charges offelony counts. So there's 21 felony counts against her."
Amanda Byrd's name is on arrest warrents, police secured Monday.Byrd, 37 is accused of stealing thousands of dollars from theLynnhaven Elementary School Parents and Teachers Association. Shefaces the following charges: seven counts of Obtaining Money underFalse Pretense, seven counts of Forgery,and seven counts ofUttering.
According to Cale, Byrd was President of the PTA from Septemberof 2006 until December of 2008 when she resigned. In January, theVirginia Beach Economic Crimes Unit started investigating her PTAactivities. Cale said there were problems from March 2008 toSeptember of 2008.
"In between that time she gained about $7,000 in cash from thePTA fund," Cale said.
Paul Foster, the father of a Lynnhaven Elementary student saidhe was surprised by the charges. "They have cookies, bake sales allthe typical things. And they ask you to donate to them, which wenormally throw a little bit of money in the plate, whatever we canafford," Foster said.
With so much money missing from the plate, there is no longer anactive PTA Chapter at the school. The President of the VirginiaPTA, Melissa Nehrbass told WAVY.com in a phone interview, the stateorganization is trying to ressurrect a chapter. Nehrbass said lastmonth, parents elected a "nomination committee to find officers toserve the Lynnhaven Elementary School PTA next year. Hopefully [theofficers] can be in place this Spring so they can participate inthe training activities that take place through the Summer."
When it comes to the money, Nehrbass said she is not sure howthe accounts look right now. She said the state organization didnot get a year-end audit from the Lynnhaven Elementary PTA lastyear. So, "all of the records are with an accountant... who isdoing what's called a criminal audit."
A company has been hired to complete the repairs to the Herbert C. Bonner Bridge on the Outer Banks, but how long those repairs will take remains unknown.
Drivers traveling between Hatteras Island and the mainland were forced to use an emergency ferry Wednesday, following the sudden closure of the Bonner Bridge Tuesday.
State officials say construction on a new Bonner Bridge has been delayed for years because of a legal battle with an environmental group.