Couple sentenced to repay $36K to schools

By Jason Hawk -




Two parents who bilked the Amherst Schools out of at least $36,000 will have to pay restitution.

Phillip Presutto Jr., 47, and Jaleh Saghafi, 50, were sentenced Aug. 15 after pleading guilty to felony counts of forgery and unauthorized use of property.

A grand jury indicted both two years ago following an investigation into how they were using school district reimbursements.

The district had agreed to help pay for specialized tutoring services for their child, who was then an elementary student.

The case came to light when the child started regressing despite outside assistance from the Cleveland Clinic and tutors, Det. Zachary Horning said.

Starting in late 2014, he looked into discrepancies involving taxpayer dollars within a six-month window. The probe quickly widened to include issues going back to 2011.

In total, the Presuttos had asked the schools for about $73,000. Some of that money, Horning said, was appropriately used to help the child.

The dollar amount police thought they would reclaim actually grew during trial preparation, when documents turned over by the family showed more money was improperly used, he said.

Police asked for $40,000 in restitution; $36,000 was what could be proved to have been misused beyond a reasonable doubt.

At the sentencing hearing, “neither one of them wanted to take the stand and (say) where it was this money was going. Their attorneys implied they were spending it all on their child but I would be hard-pressed to believe that,” Horning said.

Presutto and Saghafi were sentenced to two years of community control, restitution, and must pay back the costs of prosecution.

Jason Hawk can be reached at 440-775-1611 or @EditorHawk on Twitter.



By Jason Hawk