Szych: PTO charges a police ‘witch hunt’Written by Scott McKimmy | | email@example.com
After ongoing disputes with neighbors and gang members, Thomas Szych faces up to eight felony charges and two misdemeanors involving items purchased with a parent teacher organization account.
Szych, president of the Leverette Junior High School PTO, denies any wrongdoing and asserts the charges constitute a ”witch hunt,” resulting in part from the Oct.15 riot.
”They’re trying to railroad me with this Nazi thing,” he said.
He claims detectives pushed for felony offenses over $23 in taxes on purchases under the PTO’s tax-exempt status in order to prevent him from holding a firearm permit. Police seized a pistol from Szych’s entertainment center during a search of his home, and charged him for an unsecured firearm in the presence of minors.
”The detective pushed it with a felony so I couldn’t hold a gun permit. That’s my personal opinion,” he said. ”I felt he did that so I couldn’t have the gun.”
Szych appears in court Feb. 22 for a pretrial on one count each of theft and falsification, both misdemeanors. His attorney, Kollin Rice, said the police have not made evidence available for the felony forgery charges pending the outcome of a grand jury. Szych was released on a $2,500 bond.
”I’ve not seen any evidence supporting his using PTO funds for items. They have not shown me the evidence they indicated that they would,” Rice said. ”And he had nothing to do with the Nazis coming and the riot. He feels he’s being smeared all over the place. Tom Szych has less blame than the Toledo police.”
Toledo Police deny the arrest as retribution for the riots or any personal vendetta, according to Sgt. Richard Murphy, public relations officer.
He said the investigation originated from the school board, which warrants a follow-up.
”We’re not mad at him, but the charges against him came from the board of education,” Murphy said. ”We investigate, and we go forward in the investigation based on the information from the Toledo Board of Education.”
The charges stem from Szych’s authorization to draw from the account for PTO-related purposes, items including jeans, boots and a breast pump.
He said he returned the pump to Kmart the same afternoon, and bought other items to give away or sell on behalf of the PTO. Szych’s arrest resulted from a traffic stop near the school, in which he said the officer stated the cause as his knowledge of Szych’s driver’s license suspension.
”I had no idea that it was under suspension, but it was, so he writes me a citation and impounded my van,” Szych said.
Toledo police confiscated his handgun during a previous incident after a complaint alleging he showed it to teenagers during a neighborhood dispute. No charges were filed, and the gun was returned following the riot until the recent raid on his home.