Northeast Times

Somerton parents to pay back tuition to Lower Moreland school district

Ham­let and Olesia Gar­cia waived a pre­lim­in­ary hear­ing today after the Mont­gomery County dis­trict at­tor­ney's of­fice agreed to re­com­mend an ARD pro­gram in­stead of go­ing to tri­al. The couple will have to pay more than $10,000 in tu­ition for en­rolling their daugh­ter in a Lower Mo­re­land kinder­garten while liv­ing in Somer­ton.

  A Somer­ton couple ac­cused of felony charges for en­rolling their daugh­ter in a sub­urb­an pub­lic school last year likely won’t end up in pris­on, but will still have to pay more than $10,000 in back tu­ition.

Ham­let and Olesia Gar­cia waived their pre­lim­in­ary hear­ing on Thursday in a Wil­low Grove courtroom after the Mont­gomery County dis­trict at­tor­ney’s of­fice agreed to re­com­mend a non-tri­al ac­cel­er­ated re­hab­il­it­at­ive dis­pos­i­tion in the case.

As part of the county’s ARD pro­gram, the Gar­cias will agree to pay $10,752.81 in resti­tu­tion to the Lower Mo­re­land School Dis­trict. They may also be ordered to serve pro­ba­tion and per­form com­munity ser­vice, while pay­ing fines and court fees, said As­sist­ant Dis­trict At­tor­ney John Walko.

Spe­cif­ic terms of the ARD pro­grams are pending fur­ther re­view by the DA’s of­fice and court ap­prov­al.

Also on Thursday, Olesia Gar­cia’s fath­er, Hunt­ing­don Val­ley res­id­ent Gregori Sofitchouk, waived his pre­lim­in­ary hear­ing on a mis­de­mean­or count of false swear­ing as the dis­trict at­tor­ney agreed to re­com­mend his case for ARD.

In Au­gust, Mont­gomery County au­thor­it­ies ar­res­ted the Gar­cias on theft of ser­vices and con­spir­acy charges, ac­cus­ing them of falsi­fy­ing their daugh­ter’s ad­dress on school en­roll­ment pa­pers. The Gar­cias live in Phil­adelphia, but al­legedly en­rolled their 5-year-old at Pine Road Ele­ment­ary School in Lower Mo­re­land Town­ship, claim­ing that the girl and her moth­er lived with Sofitchouk.

The girl at­ten­ded kinder­garten at Pine Road throughout the 2011-12 school year.

Olesia Gar­cia’s step­moth­er, Vic­tor­ia Kar­lova, blew the whistle on the al­leged fraud last spring after she re­ceived a Valentine’s Day card in the mail that the young­ster had made for her par­ents in class, au­thor­it­ies said.

School of­fi­cials in­vest­ig­ated the false ad­dress claim, placed the Gar­cias un­der sur­veil­lance and con­fron­ted them with the fraud al­leg­a­tion be­fore re­fer­ring the case to Lower Mo­re­land po­lice, ac­cord­ing to court doc­u­ments.

Po­lice ques­tioned Sofitchouk, who al­legedly per­petu­ated the ruse by stat­ing that Olesia Gar­cia and her daugh­ter were liv­ing with him, rather than in their North­east Phil­adelphia home.

On Thursday, Sofitchouk com­mu­nic­ated with the court via a Rus­si­an in­ter­pret­er. He owns a flower shop in Hol­land, Bucks County, and has no pri­or crim­in­al re­cord and is free on his own re­cog­niz­ance.

Olesia Gar­cia, a nat­ive of Ukraine, owns an in­de­pend­ent in­sur­ance agency where her hus­band, a nat­ive of Cuba, works. Both par­ents are Amer­ic­an cit­izens with no pri­or crim­in­al re­cords. They are each free on $10,000 un­se­cured bail.

All three de­fend­ants are sched­uled for Com­mon Pleas Court ar­raign­ments on Dec. 19 in Nor­ris­town.

The couple’s daugh­ter now at­tends a private school in Bucks County. ••

Reach re­port­er Wil­li­am Kenny at 215-354-3031 or wkenny@bsmphilly.com

You can reach at wkenny@bsmphilly.com.

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