Cindy Sommer-Fleissig, a Oceanside PTA mom accused of stealing $5,000...

Cindy Sommer-Fleissig, a Oceanside PTA mom accused of stealing $5,000 from the elementary school PTA, walks out of District in Hempstead. (March 22, 2012) Credit: Howard Schnapp

An Oceanside mother pleaded not guilty Thursday to charges that she stole about $5,000 from the PTA at Oceanside Elementary School No. 8.

Cindy Sommer-Fleissig, 44, is charged with third-degree grand larceny, a class D felony. She faces up to 7 years in prison if convicted.

Sommer-Fleissig was released without bail by Nassau County Judge Colin O'Donnell. Her next court date is March 26. "I'm just totally in shock," Sommer-Fleissig said as she left court. "I can't even think straight."

Prosecutors said the money Sommer-Fleissig stole between November 2010 and August 2011 was supposed to go toward a retirement party for the outgoing elementary school principal, among other things. A member of the PTA who helped with fundraising and membership, Sommer-Fleissig also received check reimbursements for items she said she bought but never did, including New York Knicks tickets, office supplies and school awards, prosecutors said.

She used part of the money to pay for an American Girl-themed party for her daughter, according to a source close to the case.

The alleged theft was uncovered in the fall of 2011 when a new PTA administration reviewed the group's finances and found numerous discrepancies in its accounts. The PTA then referred the matter to the district attorney's office for investigation, prosecutors said.

"It's bad enough that this defendant thought she could get away . . . [with] stealing from a volunteer organization, but to victimize the young students and dedicated faculty of an elementary school is outrageous," said Nassau District Attorney Kathleen Rice in a statement.

Anthony Iovino, a lawyer for the Oceanside No. 8 PTA, said the PTA has improved its record-keeping since August. "It's a terrible feeling," he said. "They were betrayed by someone that they trusted."

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