Ava Shaw and Jennifer Boyd were the best of friends. Fellow teachers and teachers’ union members in San Gabriel, Calif., they dined, shopped and vacationed together. Unfortunately, those good times often came at the expense of their union – and without the union’s consent. Their luck ended nearly two years ago with their arrest for embezzlement of around $85,000 in union funds. On February 15, the pair pleaded no contest to theft in Los Angeles County Court. Shaw awaits sentencing at a restitution hearing, while Boyd was placed on three years probation and ordered to perform 45 days of community service with the California Department of Transportation.
Shaw, now 52, had been president and treasurer of the San Gabriel Teachers Association; Boyd, 36, had served as association secretary. Each also was a special education teacher at Jefferson Middle School in Alhambra. During non-work hours they enjoyed the good life at the expense of the SGTA, which is a local of the California Teachers Association (in turn affiliated with the National Education Association). According to Los Angeles County Deputy District Attorney Donna Hollingsworth, union by-laws gave Shaw “ultimate power over the check writing,” a power she used to pay off personal debt and to splurge. Shaw also charged salon appointments, artwork, and restaurant meals to a union credit card. When arrested for embezzlement, her total take during June 2001-September 2004 had reached $83,000. She pleaded no contest to grand theft. Additionally, the state revoked her teaching credentials. Boyd, who now goes by the last name Boyd-Oliver, was an auxiliary player, her thefts amounting to only $1,925, which she since has paid back. Her charge was reduced to a misdemeanor, and her teaching credentials were temporarily suspended. Hopefully, this was a learning experience for both. (Pasadena Star-News, 2/20/08).