California PTA Moms Schemed Parents Out of Millions

Filed under: In The News

It is a treacherous world out there. You have to keep your eyes peeled for cheats, grifters, con artists, flimflammers, sharpies, hustlers, scammers, snake oil salesmen and assorted mountebanks.

And that's just on the local PTA.

USA Today reports authorities in California are socking it to the Neil A. Armstrong Elementary School PTA.

Three members of the parent-teacher association in Diamond Bar, Calif., have allegedly been running a Ponzi scheme to bilk their fellow PTA members out of millions of dollars.

Maricela Barajas, 41 Juliana Menefee, 50, and Eva Perez, 51, add a whole new meaning to "desperate housewives." USA Today reports they will face 20 years in the slammer on charges of grand theft and security fraud. Barajas and Menefee were arrested at their homes this week. Perez was already in jail on other charges.

The Machiavellian mommies allegedly claimed to have the exclusive right to sell AltaDena Dairy products at Disneyland and Disney Hotels and to small retailers. But they said they needed investors to build the business.

According to USA Today, they allegedly offered a return of up to 100 percent, winning more than 40 investors through contacts on the PTA.

The paper reports the trio took in some $14 million, returned $10 million to investors to keep the con going and kept about $4 million. They allegedly spent their largesse on lavish vacations and new cars along with substantial contributions to California and Nevada casinos.

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