A family advocate was charged Wednesday with stealing more than $1,500 from the charitable organization she helped manage. Ashley Pankonin, 33, allegedly stole from Voices 4 Families, a non-profit agency headquartered in North Platte.
Pankonin is the director of family services for the company. She held the No. 2 position on the staff.
She is charged with withdrawing more than $1,500 from the company bank account for personal use, police spokesman John Deal said.
Voices 4 Families aims to help the parents of children who are diagnosed with mental health, behavioral and/or emotional disorders. Their website says they offer “peer-to-peer support through partnering with the parents.
“We are there with you as you navigate the system of behavioral health care and your child’s education, helping you connect with the resources in your community,” the Voice 4 Families website says.
Pankonin is also charged with using the company’s cell phone as her personal phone. Deal said the investigation began Aug. 7, when police were called downtown to Voices 4 Families on a report that files turned up missing that day -- the last day of Pankonin's job there.
A company representative said Pankonin had a business laptop computer and cell phone, police spokesman John Deal said.
Pankonin had told the company that the computer was at Staples so the drive could be cleaned before she turned it back in, but when Staples was called, they said they had no knowledge of the laptop.
Pankonin later told the police that she took the computer to another computer store to have the drive wiped, because it contained some personal information, and she would return it.
As the officer took the initial report of missing items, the business noted a withdrawal of more than $1,500 from their business account at the bank, to which Pankonin had access, leading to the theft charge.
Pankonin also told an investigator that she had the company cellphone upgraded to a better model after she left the company.
"It was believed that Ashley was going to use the phone for her personal use while the bill was being paid by the business that she no longer worked for," Deal said. "The upgrade of the phone was also unauthorized by the business."
Police said Friday that the missing files have still not been recovered and they do not know if Pankonin was responsible for taking them.
Pankonin is formally charged with felony theft of both the money and cell phone.
This report was first published Thursday afternoon. It was updated Friday, when more information was provided by the North Platte Police Department. -Editor.