Former PTO president arrested for pot at courthouse - KMSP-TV

Former PTO president arrested for pot at courthouse

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WAUKEGAN, Ill. (Sun-Times Media Wire) -

The past president of a north suburban PTO, attending court proceedings involving theft charges against the group's former treasurer, was arrested herself when court personnel found marijuana in her purse.

Katherine Rasmussen, 44, of the 200 block of Deerview Drive in Hainseville was arrested May 29 for possession of less than 2.5 grams of cannabis and possession of drug paraphernalia by Lake County Sheriff's personnel, Pioneer Press is reporting.

She told police she had been using the marijuana to help control nausea from chemotherapy. The Illinois legislature has passed a medical marijuana law, but it has not been signed by the governor.

"I got very sick this year," said Rasmussen, who took an oral form of marijuana when she had a bone marrow transplant in 2006. She has lupus and multiple sclerosis and other auto-immune diseases. On Friday, she was getting a chemotherapy treatment at the Lake Forest Hospital facility in Grayslake.

On the day in question, she was going to court to monitor the progress in the case of former Grayslake PTO treasurer Elizabeth Bako, who is accused of stealing more than $20,000 from Frederick School's PTO fund.

"I've just been going to court to follow through on the case, to make it right and get the money back for the kids," Rasmussen said. An unnamed person gave her the marijuana and smoking pipe and she forgot she had it in her purse, she said.

Rasmussen finished her term as PTO president at the end of the school year and she no longer has a child attending the school, so she couldn't serve again even if she wanted to.

She was charged with Class C misdemeanors for possession of cannabis and possession of drug paraphernalia. She is due for arraignment July 15.

Charges against Bako are pending and she is due back in court July 9.

Rasmussen said she believes the Bako camp has been calling media about her arrest as a way of trying to distract people from the fact she allegedly stole $20,000 from the PTO.

"I don't let people know how sick I am. That's why I had it," she said of the marijuana. "I don't have a record," she added.

Hainesville Mayor Linda Soto fully supports Rasmussen. "I know her as a friend and neighbor. I've worked with her on PTO events, block parties and informal woman's club events," she said.

"Her future is bleak. She's doing what she can to buy herself more time," said Soto. "It's been pretty ugly for her. She can't work so she has been involved in the community."

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