Suspicion that funds raised by middle school play stolen
By Jeanne Tao
The Cold Spring Police Department and the Putnam County Sheriff’s Department confirmed Wednesday, June 5, that an investigation is currently underway into a reported burglary at Haldane Central School.
Both the agencies told Philipstown.info that details could not be given on the continuing investigation, but Chief Investigator A. Gerald Schramek of the Sheriff’s Department said in a phone interview that entry into the school and the disappearance of an unspecified amount of money occurred sometime after 11 p.m. Saturday, June 1.
While also declining to give details on the incident, Haldane Superintendent of Schools Mark Villanti said in a phone interview that the school discovered the possible theft on Sunday, June 2, and that the school was working with the Sheriff’s Department to find and prosecute the persons responsible and to recover whatever money was taken.
Because the entry occurred after the last of two performances (May 31 and June 1) of the middle school’s production of The Great All American Musical Disaster, at least two people involved in the school told Philipstown.info that the culprit or culprits likely absconded with the funds raised by the play. Speculative reports differ over the amount taken; both $2,900 and $5,000 were suggested.
Broken windows were reported at the school, leading some to believe that a search was made starting with the music room and ending in the middle school office, where the key to the safe was discovered and used to steal the money inside. Sources also said investigators have dusted for fingerprints and may also have access to video footage from security cameras.
When asked about rumors concerning the incident, Villanti said, “Anybody who speculates on the details doesn’t know what they’re talking about” and are engaging in “pure speculation.” He mentioned that he had also heard rumors as to the amount of money lost.
Given the potential amount of money involved as well as the reported break-in at the school, felony charges could result for the perpetrators.
The proceeds collected from the school’s theatrical performances, according to one source, are normally used to fund performances the following year, and it was unclear whether the loss of the monies, if unrecovered, would be protected by the school’s insurance.