Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.  

BRATTLEBORO — The former treasurer of the Townshend Elementary School Parent Teacher Organization pleaded not guilty Tuesday to stealing nearly $6,000 from the club between January 2020 and July 2022.

In texts supplied to Windham Superior Court, Criminal Division, Elissa Wagner, 40, of Westminster, admitted to members of the PTO that she stole the money and that she was ashamed and embarrassed, and promised to repay the money “as soon as I get my life in order.”

Wagner has been charged with embezzlement and if found guilty could spend up to 10 years in jail.

According to an affidavit filed by Vermont State Trooper Joseph Galusha, dispatch received a complaint about theft of funds from the PTO on Oct. 7, 2022.

The theft came to the attention of the PTO after it received bank statements due to the merger of People’s United with M&T Bank.

“None of you are [probably] ever gonna trust me again and that kills me,” wrote Wagner in the group text, asking that people not believe what they’ve been reading about her on social media. “I promise you I am not on any substance or sinking or anything. I just want my life back so that I don’t have to make choices like I have in the past like this one that has [been eating] at my soul for a long time.”

Wagner, who was the only one with access to the funds, allegedly used some of the money to buy groceries, snacks, soda and cigarettes.

Bob Audette can be contacted at