Friday, December 31, 2010

Ex-Ripley High Worker Sentenced for Embezzlement in West Virginia

A former employee convicted of embezzling more than $52,000 from Ripley High School has avoided jail time.

WSAZ-TV reports that Robin Wise received five years probation on Wednesday. A Jackson County judge also ordered Wise to make restitution to the school.

Wise pleaded guilty in February to embezzling the money in 2008. She was the school's financial secretary at the time.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Former Lincoln, Nebraska director suspected of embezzling $24k from church child care center

The former director of a church child care facility is suspected of embezzling thousands of dollars from the business during her last nine months on the job.

Paula Kay Sparks, 47, was arrested Monday on suspicion of theft after the monsignor and current director at Holy Family Child Care Center, 3245 S. 37th St., noticed major discrepancies in the finances, of which Sparks was in charge, said Lincoln Police Officer Katie Flood.

Flood said Sparks left the center between Jan. 1 and Sept. 3. She wouldn't say whether she was fired or quit, but said Sparks erased financial records and did not make deposits of cash payments from those paying for child care. A backup of financial records at an off-site location showed the missing sum to be $24,411, Flood said.

Case dropped against former Detroit Public School principal

The criminal case against a former Detroit Public Schools high school principal accused of theft was dismissed last week, the Wayne County Prosecutor's Office confirmed today.
Technical Center, had been charged with one count of embezzlement by a public official over $50.00 and one count of embezzlement by an agent or trustee $1,000 or more but less than $20,000.
Prosecutor Kym Worthy and Robert Bobb, the DPS emergency financial manager, in August publicly announced the charges against Miller as well as charges against the school's former bookkeeper and two others associated with the bookkeeper.
The other three individuals were accused of charging goods and mortgage payments worth nearly $150,000 to school credit cards and bank accounts. Those cases are pending and scheduled to go to trial in April.
Miller was accused of stealing $1,447 worth of goods, specifically of using school funds and employees to install a heater in her home and obtaining merchandise from the school's boutique. She reimbursed DPS during the investigation and prior to the charges being filed.
Wayne County Circuit Judge Michael Callahan dismissed the case against Miller on Friday, but the prosecutor plans to appeal, said Maria Miller a spokesman for Worthy.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Former University of Michigan administrator's sentencing in computer scam postponed

The sentencing hearing for a former University of Michigan administrator who resold roughly $75,000 worth of computers purchased with university funds will be delayed for several months.

Court records show a recent sentencing hearing for Donald Sims, 41, on one count of embezzlement was adjourned until March 3. He pleaded guilty to the charge in October and agreed to pay more than $61,000 in restitution within three years.

Sims, of Ypsilanti Township, was the business administrator at the University of Michigan’s Center for Afro-American and African Studies at the time he purchased 75 computers and other computer-related equipment between 2008 and 2010 with university funds that were never repaid. Authorities said the computers were resold across the country in an elaborate scheme.

Don Ferris, Sims’ attorney, could not be reached for comment.

Sims’ son Dion, a standout athlete who played both football and basketball at Michigan State University, and three other men are charged with related crimes in Wayne County. Authorities said the group was part of larger ring that stole more than 100 computers from the Detroit Public Schools valued at roughly $158,000.

Edmond police arrest Oklahoma City pastor

An Oklahoma City pastor was arrested in Edmond on Wednesday on four complaints of obtaining under false pretenses.

Edmond police arrest OKC pastor Baron Hopgood, 35, founder of Baron Hopgood Ministries, also had an outstanding warrant from Midwest City on a complaint of defrauding an innkeeper, Edmond police spokeswoman Glynda Chu said.

The Edmond complaint states Hopgood knowingly wrote checks totaling $5,467 on a closed bank account, Chu said.

According to a police report released Wednesday, Hopgood opened a business account under the name Swivel Entertainment at Kirkpatrick Bank at 2245 W Danforth Road on Oct. 15.

He was expected to be taken to the Oklahoma County jail Wednesday night on $60,000 bail, Chu said.

On Nov. 30, Hopgood surrendered to Oklahoma City police on bogus check charges.

He is being sued by several former employees who claim their paychecks bounced.

The Department of Labor reported that 16 people complained Hopgood did not pay them.

Their claims total $19,754 in the past year.

Baron Hopgood Ministries is a nonprofit organization that serves “as a education system to help believers recognize, develop and implement principles proven for success in business and vision fulfillment,” according to the ministry website.

The ministry hosts a seminar on money and goal setting called “The Encounter” and a weekly meeting called “Friday Night Live,” to “help people maximize their abilities in every aspect of their life,” according to the website.

Saturday, December 18, 2010


Barbara M. Worrell, former finance director of Colonial Beach schools, pleaded guilty yesterday in Westmoreland County Circuit Court to stealing about $337,000 from school accounts over a 12-year period.

Worrell, 62, pleaded guilty to 13 felony counts of embezzlement and one felony count of making false statements on her state income-tax returns for not reporting the stolen income.

Circuit Judge Joseph J. Ellis allowed Worrell to remain free on bond until her sentencing Feb. 18. She faces a maximum 265 years in prison--20 years on each of the embezzlement counts and five years on the tax count.

"The date she will be incarcerated is probably coming," Ellis said.

Westmoreland County Commonwealth's Attorney Dean J. Atkins said the thefts occurred from September 1997 to April 2009, when Worrell was making monthly deposits of school funds into her accounts at bank based in Syracuse, N.Y.

Worrell's deposits into her checking, savings and vacation accounts at Beacon Federal exceeded her monthly salary, Atkins said. On the schools' books, she disguised her illegal deposits as payments for services provided to the schools, he said.

Worrell's "accounting creativity passed through auditing processes," Atkins said.

Atkins said Worrell also used a school credit card to pay personal expenses, including a time-share residence in another state. She also stole from a school cafeteria fund and a petty-cash account, Atkins told the court.

"What can be absolutely proved," Atkins said, is that Worrell stole "$325,000 from the School Board account, approximately $7,000 from the cafeteria fund and approximately $5,000 from the petit-cash account."

Atkins told the court that he would present evidence of how Worrell spent the stolen money at her sentencing hearing in February.

Worrell worked for the Colonial Beach school system for 28 years before being placed on unpaid administrative leave in May 2009.

The month before, School Board Chairman Tim Trivett had noticed a unusual, voided check payable to Worrell. The check led him to discrepancies in Worrell's bookkeeping.

Trivett then notified the Virginia State Police, which launched an investigation and seized computers and records in Worrell's office.

Worrell's employment contract was not renewed when it expired in June 2009. She was arrested this past March after police searched her home in Colonial Beach.

Worrell was dressed in black and accompanied by her husband and family members at yesterday's proceeding.

In urging Judge Ellis to allow her to remain free until her sentencing, defense attorney Mark Gardner of Spotsylvania County said Worrell "is well aware that incarceration is a distinct possibility."

But allowing her to remain at home presents no danger to the community or risk that she might try to flee, Gardner said. He said she was also needed to explain details of her embezzlement.

"She's a lifelong resident of Colonial Beach. Everything important to her life--her husband, her family, her church--is there," Garner said. He added that Worrell's husband has health issues and that the couple is facing foreclosure of their home.

"She's going to jail," Atkins told Colonial Beach school officials outside the courtroom after Worrell's arraignment.

"It's a really sad day. I never would have expected it," said School Board member C. Wayne Kennedy, who was a coach and teacher at Colonial Beach High School for many of the years that Worrell worked in the School Board office.

"But what took place affected people's retirement and their ability to get raises and it enhanced the conflict between the School Board and Town Council. I hope the investigation, the charges and her guilty plea will help restore confidence in the School Board and the judicial system."

Trivett said the School Board is now discussing a claim with its insurance company to recover the losses that resulted from Worrell's dishonesty.

"We need to get past this," Trivett said. "Hopefully, Town Council will see that we've done everything we can to mend the damage in our relationship that all this has caused."

Friday, December 17, 2010

Visalia Woman Accused Of Embezzling Church Funds in California

She was a trusted employee who kept the books for Visalia First Assembly of God Church for years. But Visalia Police say Sandy Arreola cooked the books and embezzled more than two million dollars.

Sandy Arreola spent a dozen years as accounting manager of Visalia First Assembly Of God. Pastor Mike Robertson said two years ago the numbers just didn't add up. "A few regularities began to surface while testing the payroll system. Additional discrepancies in the handling of contributions came to light as a result of a further internal investigation in conjunction with a forensic audit."

First Assembly Of God hired a Los Angeles based accounting firm that discovered 2–point–1 million dollars had been embezzled since 2003. Pastor Robertson says Arreola became uncooperative with auditors and resigned in 2009.

Thursday she was arrested by Visalia Police on embezzlement charges and booked into jail. Her bail has been set a one million dollars.

The church says it has put personnel and procedures in place to keep this from happening again. While the church lost more than 2-million dollars in tithes and church offerings, Pastor Robertson said it recovered a susbstantial amount through its insurance policy.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

New president, new rules at San Jose school club after it was robbed of $30,000 in California

The money was meant for field trip buses, a kindergarten handwriting program and jump ropes.

Instead, some of the $30,000 stolen from a club that supports a south San Jose elementary school was spent at a nail spa, a piercing salon and Frederick's of Hollywood.
The embezzlement forced the resignations of two top leaders at the Baldwin Elementary Home and School Club. Both mothers, charged with felony grand theft, are headed back to court Thursday.
The scam also exposed lax financial oversight by the club's board and school administrators, and prompted the current club leader to crack down on how club money is spent.
"We've got to make sure this doesn't happen again," said Cheri Villarreal, 37, who took over as president of the club in September. "We have to be certain our books are where they should be, and that no one's stealing."
Prosecutors in July charged the former club president, Jennifer Lee Vasquez, 42, and Treasurer Wendi Marie Hayes, 28, with stealing about $15,000 each over six months. Villarreal estimated the club, which is a parental organization similar to a PTA, raises between $30,000 and $50,000 a year for things the Oak Grove School District can't cover -- in this case, to pay for buses for field trips, books for a kindergarten handwriting program, extra assemblies, and for an on-site counselor for the roughly 500 students at Julia Baldwin Elementary.
By the end of this summer, both women had paid back most of the money. Neither they nor their attorneys returned calls and e-mails seeking comment, although the court file indicates both women were tearful, apologetic and cooperative.

Vasquez is scheduled to enter a plea Thursday. Hayes pleaded not guilty in September. They each face a maximum of three years in prison if convicted.

Villareal, who has an accounting background, said the club had money in reserve to cover the loss until it is fully reimbursed. This isn't the only club or PTA that's been hit by such a scandal; similar crimes can be found in every state.

It happens "far more often than we'd like," said California State PTA Treasurer Diane Foote of Sunnyvale. "And it just makes me sick every time."

Foote added: "It's not just mothers either. It just kills me when it's the staff, like the librarian or someone like that who abuses the trust given to them. Transparency is the only way to avoid this. With good controls, anyone can stop this."

Such controls weren't in place last year at Baldwin.

"Having completely trusted Jen and Wendi," the vice president at the time wrote in her court filing, "I never asked to look at the bank statements."

Those statements showed Vasquez and Hayes used the club's charge and debit cards at Netflix, JCPenney, Old Navy and gas stations. On Nov. 30, 2009, the card was used to spend $60 at Splendor Nails. In January, the cards were used to spend $109.80 at Frederick's of Hollywood and $19.64 at the Piercing Pagoda.

Wells Fargo executives in March spotted the charges, including $2,000 and $3,000 withdrawals last Thanksgiving, and contacted the club's vice president, court records indicate.

When San Jose police contacted Vasquez and Hayes in April, the women said they had mixed up their club cards with their personal cards. Then, a police officer noted, Vasquez said she had been "short on cash," and borrowed the club's card with the intention of paying it back, although she later "lost track of how many times she used it."

E-mail exchanges show the school and Assistant Superintendent Chris Jew tried to work with the women, telling them they would keep the case quiet if they paid back the money. The case became public in November after an anonymous tipster called the Mercury News.

"Nobody knew except a handful of people," Villarreal said. "But we're a tight-knit community. People have been asking how they can help. A few even sent us fruit baskets."

Now, Villarreal is keeping tight reins on the club's purse strings and following general practices for most home and school clubs and PTA groups. Club members may no longer use debit cards. Two people must sign every check, and two members must count the money together in the staff lunchroom. Anyone who wants to purchase an item must fill out a form, which the principal must approve. The club is looking to upgrade its insurance in case of future theft, and an independent tax accountant has been asked to look at the books quarterly.

The toll has been hard on the school community, whose children, teachers and parents raised money through walk-a-thons, sold candy and cooked for barbecues.

"When I first heard, I cried," Villarreal said. "I got the chills. Holy cow. I was shocked and disappointed. But I wasn't going to turn my back on the club when they needed me most. I want to turn this into something positive. We have to show our children the right way to be."

Woman charged in church theft has yet to pay restitution in Massachusetts

A local woman convicted of embezzling thousands of dollars from a North Andover church last year has yet to pay any of it back and will now face a judge to determine if she has violated her probation.

Dawn Appel, 40, of 76 Blossom St., Haverhill, appeared in Lawrence District Court last week, charged with larceny by check over $250 after she allegedly wrote a bogus $365 rent check.

In November 2009, Appel was sentenced to three years of probation for stealing $38,481.68 from North Parish Church in North Andover, where she was working as church administrator.

As a condition of her probation, Appel was ordered to pay back $13,500 in restitution to the church. She was given until the end of her three-year probation term in August 2012 to do so.

But after her more recent larceny charge, Probation Department Spokesman Coria Holland said Appel was issued a notice of surrender last week, giving her seven business days to appear in court. Holland said Appel must discuss with a judge her ability to pay the restitution.

"She has failed to comply with the conditions," said Holland. "It will be determined whether she is in violation."

The Rev. Lee Bluemel, pastor at North Parish Church, said Appel has yet to pay back any of the $13,500. Of the remaining money that was stolen, Bluemel said a portion was paid back by an insurance company, while another sum was contested by Appel's lawyer in court.

Bluemel said members of the parish remain hopeful they will eventually receive the $13,500.

"We understand where the court order is, but we're also moving on," said Bluemel. "We have wonderful new staff in place. We have more active lay oversight in place. I think the trust of the congregation is rebuilt because they realize it was one person's actions. I think we've really put it behind us."

Appel was found guilty in connection with the church embezzlement on charges of larceny over $250, improper use of a credit card, forgery of a check, and uttering a false check.

Previously, Appel lived at 15 Bixby Ave. in North Andover.

She had worked at the church since 2006 before being placed on unpaid administrative leave and turning herself in to the North Andover Police Department.

Appel is believed to have taken the money from the roughly 350-member Unitarian Universalist church between Jan. 1, 2007, and April 24, 2009.

In an April 2009 e-mail to Bluemel and other church members on file in court, Appel wrote that she was in "great financial despair" and spent the stolen money on bills.

In regard to her more recent larceny charge, Appel is accused of writing a bad check in September 2009 by her landlord, Melissa Drouin of Lawrence, according to incident reports on file with the North Andover and Haverhill police departments.

Drouin told Haverhill police in early 2010 that she believed Appel "wrote the check knowing the account had already been closed and the check would bounce," according to an incident report.

Appel agreed last week to pay Drouin $365 in restitution, according to Carrie Kimball Monahan, spokeswoman for the Essex County District Attorney's Office.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Firefighter and church deacon accused of embezzlement in Oklahoma

"We were hurt, disappointed; I don't know, a lot of emotions; mad," Glen Harvey said of a fellow church deacon. There are big emotions in the tight-knit town of Lookeba-Sickles.

Lawmen say this community was betrayed by one of its own when a church deacon and volunteer firefighter admitted to embezzling nearly $200,000 from the Lookeba-Sickles Volunteer Fire Department and a local church.
"It's hard to imagine how anyone would do that," Harvey said.
Caddo County prosecutors charged 58-year-old James Randall Hutcherson with five felony counts of embezzlement and obtaining cash by fraud. He has confessed to taking nearly $68,000 from the town's volunteer fire department and $124,000 from the Sickles Community Church.
Authorities say he also used three fire trucks for collateral to get personal loans after he had already been caught stealing.
"As best we can tell right now, he just used it to keep up appearances," Caddo County Assistant District Attorney Tyler Lowe said. "Everybody knows everybody, very salt of the earth people. I think they're hurt and rightfully so that, basically, one of their own would do this type of thing."
If convicted Hutcherson could face up to ten years on each felony

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Woman accused of embezzlement in West Virginia

A Fayette County woman who took part in fundraising efforts for a middle school football program was arrested Friday on misdemeanor embezzlement and fraudulent schemes charges, police said.

Paula Kay Lilly, 33, of Robson, turned herself in to authorities and was charged with two counts of embezzlement and two counts of fraudulent schemes, Fayette Sheriff Steve Kessler said. Lilly was arraigned and released on $10,000 bond.
Kessler said the sheriff’s office was notified in October of possible fraud in connection with fundraising activities conducted by the Collins Middle School football program in Oak Hill.
Kessler said a parent took part in two fundraisers, one in August involving the sale of discount meal cards and the other in September selling orders for donuts.
The parent, instead of turning in cash from the first fundraiser, submitted three checks that were later determined to have been drawn against a closed checking account, Kessler said, and then refused to make the checks good.
Kessler said the same parent then took several orders for donuts, and when the money collected was due to be turned in, the parent attempted to submit a check drawn against the same closed account. When the school refused to accept the check, the parent turned in only a portion of the cash collected during the fundraising activity.
After several attempts to collect the money from the parent, Kessler said, school personnel contacted the sheriff’s office to conduct an investigation.
“The personnel from Collins Middle School and the parents and other personnel associated with the football program were in no way responsible for these thefts and cooperated fully during this investigation,” Kessler said. “These crimes involved only a single individual who was not affiliated with the school or the football program in any way other than selling items and failing to turn in the money collected to the school.”

Beverly Hills schools rocked by criminal charges, allegations of $5 million in misspent funds

The Beverly Hills Unified School District has been rocked by criminal charges filed by L.A. prosecutors alleging its former superintendent and former facilities director misappropriated more than $5 million in public funds.
The charges, filed Thursday, also reverberated in the Newport-Mesa Unified School District, where Jeffrey Hubbard, 53, is now superintendent. Hubbard has strongly denied any wrongdoing.
“It’s absolutely not true,” the former Beverly Hills district superintendent said. “It’s an injustice. This is my career. It’s just not right. I don’t know how I could have anything to do with it.”
Hubbard and Karen Anne Christiansen, 52, former facilities director, were charged with two counts each of misappropriation of public funds. Christiansen, who now lives in Las Vegas, was also charged with six counts of conflict of interest.
According to the felony complaint filed by the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office, Hubbard allegedly gave Christiansen a $20,000 stipend that was not authorized by the school board and improperly increased her car allowance.
The complaint alleges that Christiansen, hired by the district in 2004 at an annual salary of $113,000, secretly negotiated to become an independent contractor while still retaining her duties as facilities director, a violation of state conflict-of-interest codes. According to the complaint, she was paid more than $5.2 million by the school district between 2006 and 2009.
In addition, Christiansen allegedly simultaneously negotiated contracts with an energy firm to conduct business with the district and her own company, according to prosecutors.
Christiansen could not be reached for comment. Hubbard, interviewed at his home in Newport Beach, strongly denied the charges.
He said the contract involving Christiansen was approved by the Beverly Hills school board after he had left the district’s employ.
In a statement, the Beverly Hills Board of Education said it was “gratified” at the district attorney’s decision to seek criminal charges against Christiansen and Hubbard.
The district has also filed a civil suit against Christiansen seeking restitution of the alleged misappropriated money.
Newport-Mesa School Board President Karen Yelsey said: "Since the matter was alleged to have occurred in another district, I'm going to reserve making any further statement or any judgment

Friday, December 10, 2010

Woman found guilty of church embezzlement back in court in Massachusetts

A local woman convicted of embezzling more than $38,000 from a North Andover church last year was back in court this week for allegedly writing a bogus rent check.

Dawn Appel, 40, of 76 Blossom St., Haverhill, appeared in Lawrence District Court on Wednesday after being summonsed on a charge of larceny by check over $250.
Appel was accused of writing a bad check by her landlord, Melissa Drouin of Lawrence, according to incident reports on file with the North Andover and Haverhill police departments.
Appel agreed Wednesday to pay Drouin $365 in restitution, according to Carrie Kimball Monahan, spokeswoman for the Essex district attorney's office.
Previously, Appel lived at 15 Bixby Ave. in North Andover.
n March 2009, Appel turned herself in to North Andover police in connection with the embezzlement of $38,481.68 at North Parish Church in North Andover. Appel was charged and found guilty of larceny over $250, improper use of a credit card, forgery of a check, and uttering a false check.
Appel received probation for three years with the following stipulations: that she look for a full-time job that does not allow her access to money or financial information; that she continue psychological counseling; that she write a letter of apology to North Parish Church; and that she pay the church $13,500 in restitution.
The Rev. Lee Bluemel, pastor at North Parish Church, could not be reached for comment yesterday. The more than 300-year-old Unitarian Universalist church has a congregation of 360 members.
Appel had worked at the church since 2006 and is believed to have taken the money between Jan. 1, 2007, and April 24, 2009. She was placed on paid administrative leave soon after.
er church members on file in Lawrence District Court, Appel wrote that she was in "great financial despair."

"I have been behind on all of my bills, I have been supporting my daughter and her family as well," wrote Appel. "All I have done with what was not rightfully mine is pay bills. I realize that doesn't make it OK ... it would be the same no matter where the money went to."

Appel went on to write that she had already begun to pay money back to the church.

"I beg you to let me work this out with you," wrote Appel. "Please let me pay back the money and keep this between North Parish and me. If you were to involve the authorities my life would be over. I have clearly lost my job. I have no money at all. I am not going to be able to collect unemployment because of this ... and I deserve all of that."

Church officials were told at an April 2009 meeting that some church checks were made out to Appel's landlord. Court documents include 11 pages of canceled checks from the church's bank account and a four-page statement from credit cards.

Drouin first approached Haverhill police in March, alleging that Appel wrote her a bad check for $365 from Georgetown Savings Bank on Sept. 1, 2009, according to court documents.

Drouin told police the check was returned from the bank and stamped with a notice that the account did not exist.

Drouin told police she believed Appel "wrote the check knowing the account had already been closed and the check would bounce," according to an incident report.

Drouin also told police she had worked out a payment plan with Appel that was never upheld.

Drouin later spoke with North Andover police and reported that Appel gave her false information when applying to rent a condominium, according to court documents.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Former UC Davis Employee Arrested in California

A Former UC Davis employee is in police custody facing embezzlement charges and other felonies.

Jennifer Beeman surrendered to cops and was arrested Thursday after allegations of misusing public funds while she was director of the Campus Violence Prevention Program.
She was director for 16 years until December 2008 when she was placed on administrative leave during the investigation. She officially left university employment in June 2009.
Beeman is charged with one count of embezzlement of public funds by a public official, three counts of misuse of funds by a public official, four counts of false accounting and one count of fraudulently altering an account. All charges carry jail terms if found guilty.
Beeman is accused of misusing money from education and outreach programs intended to prevent sexual violence. Investigators say she also embezzled between $2,000 and $13,000.
As part of the investigation, UC Davis returned more than $100,000 to the US Department of Justice that had been originally awarded in 2005. There are questions about how the money was spent, however that does not constitute fraud. Beeman helped administer this grant.
Last year, UC Davis announced that as part of their investigation, they discovered Beeman had exaggerated the numbers of forcible sex offenses reported under the Clery Act in 2005, 2006 and 2007. The University has corrected these numbers, and are changing the collection of these statistics.
An arraignment hearing date has not been set yet.

Suspended New Jersey college staffer admits embezzlement

The suspended office manager for a New Jersey college's student government organization has admitted stealing $502,000 in student funds.

Forty-eight-year-old Shaunette Ruffin-Moody of Jersey City pleaded guilty Thursday to federal charges of embezzlement and conspiracy to commit mail fraud.
She faces up to three years in prison when she's sentenced March 24.
Ruffin-Moody was suspended without pay earlier this year from her job at New Jersey City University in Jersey City. Prosecutors say she and her 51-year-old husband, Alexander Moody, conspired to issue about 219 unauthorized checks made payable to themselves and three others.
The couple also faces state charges related to the thefts.

Ex-Fluvanna day care worker guilty of embezzlement in Virginia

The former director of a Fluvanna County day care center has been convicted of embezzling funds and depositing some of them into her personal bank account.

Tracy Lin Shifflett, 37, entered Alford pleas on Thursday in Fluvanna County Circuit Court to four counts of embezzlement and one count of money laundering from ABC Preschool in 2007 and 2008. Her attorney, Michael Hallahan, said in court that his client theoretically could have faced 400 years in prison if she was convicted on the original 21 counts.
“In view of the evidence, the defense believes the jury would acquit or convict on all [of the charges],” Hallahan said in court.
An Alford plea means Shifflett maintains her innocence while acknowledging that there is enough evidence for her to be convicted.
Francis C. Terwilliger, assistant commonwealth’s attorney, said in court that Shifflett was responsible for receiving and depositing payments from parents. ABC owner Peggy Johnson reviewed the records in August 2008, Terwilliger said in court, and noticed that the preschool’s bookkeeping procedures hadn’t been followed. The prosecutor said in court that Shifflett handed in her resignation in order to work for her husband’s lawn care business when Johnson tried to meet with her to reconcile the books.
After a review of its books, Terwilliger said in court, the Palmyra preschool was unable to account for $27,509.18. Authorities have said they also found receipts for building supplies during the time when Shifflett was building a house and for beer and cigarettes, as well as a check that appears to have been tampered with. Terwilliger said in court that Johnson estimated her total losses at about $30,000.
The money laundering count relates to cash deposits into Shifflett’s bank accounts, Terwilliger said in court.
Under the plea agreement, Shifflett’s charges were consolidated into incidents over six-month time periods.
Hallahan said in court that his client now works with her husband’s lawn care business, takes care of two of their children and is trying to get custody of two other children who aren’t hers. Both attorneys said she doesn’t have a prior criminal history.
Shifflett is scheduled to be sentenced Feb. 18. She remains out on bond.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Man May Have Embezzled From Church in Florida

A church deacon is free from jail after 18 months behind bars.

Charles Harden was supposed to go on trial today for grand theft and fraud. Yet late last week, prosecutors dropped the charges.
Harden was accused of stealing more than one hundred thousand dollars from Tabernacle Missionary Baptist Church.
Court documents say as project manager, Harden was supposed to pay subcontractors to build and pave a parking lot, but ultimately used a lot of the money to pay his own bills.
Prosecutors say they couldn't prove Harden intended to take the money all along, which is required under the language of Florida statutes.
For a more detailed explanation of why the charges were dropped, we have attached the prosecutor's request above.
The church pastor had no comment on the charges being dropped.
Defense attorney Annabelle Dias also had no comment.
Grand theft and fraud charges against a deacon at Tabernacle Missionary Baptist Church have been dropped on the eve of trial.
Court records show that charges against Charles Harden were dropped Thursday afternoon and he was released from jail about 40 minutes later.
We are still trying to reach the attorneys to find out why charges were dismissed ... as well as reach a spokesperson for the church for comment.
A deacon accused of ripping off his own church will sit in jail longer than expected.
57-year-old Charles Harden is charged with embezzling more than 200-thousand dollars from Tabernacle Missionary Baptist Church in Tallahassee.
Law enforcement says Harden misused money the church paid him to construct a new parking lot... by paying off personal bills.
Harden was scheduled for a case management Monday morning... but his case was not set for trial... instead it was re-set for a court date on September 14th.

Mariner Boosters Club hopes new practices will deter another theft in Washington

Failure to keep an eye on its finances for nearly a decade, which opened the door to the embezzlement of nearly $60,000 by a treasurer with a gambling addiction, was a mistake the Mariner Boosters Club won’t make again.
Former treasurer Patricia Harmon, charged with first-degree theft, was sentenced last week to 90 days in jail.
Snohomish County Superior Court Judge Michael Downes rejected a first-time offender waiver recommended by prosecutors and Harmon’s attorney.
Admitting she is a compulsive gambler, Harmon has been in treatment since turning herself into county Sheriff deputies and confessing to the booster club president in 2009.
Records show that at the time of her confession, Harmon needed to pay some large club bills and, although the club’s bank records showed a balance of $45,000, there was really only $391 left in the account.
For that reason, Judge Downes said Harmon’s confession appeared prompted by factors beyond her control, and she deserved to serve time behind bars.
Club officials believe their new practices will prevent any repeats of the episode.
"We are recuperating,” said Sheri Thompson, current boosters club co-treasurer. “We are changing our policies so that a theft, such as the one Patty was sentenced for, cannot go unnoticed,” she said.
The boosters club has rearranged its administrative structure to ensure honesty among members.
The club now has nine executive board members, and there are two people holding each position except for the secretary’s position. There are two presidents, two vice-presidents, two treasurers and two concessions managers.
Dual signatures are required for all transactions involving the club bank account. For each deposit, one bank slip is sent to the school and one bank slip is kept with the president.
In addition the boosters club has increased membership from 23 to 70.
There are 25 sub-clubs that function under the umbrella of the Mariner Boosters Club, and when one of the sub-clubs makes a deposit of fundraising money, the deposit must be signed by one of their representatives and also an executive board member.
The sub-club representative will get a receipt for each deposit, and bank statements are available at every meeting.
"I just want to warn all clubs out there currently, just look at your bank statements. That is all that is needed to be done to prevent this,” Thompson said.
“You just need to match profit and loss reports to the bank statements, and the theft should be easy to catch,” she said. The club is now completing annual audits.
Despite all the upset over Harmon’s sentencing, the boosters club is working hard to recover lost funds and restore trust in their operations.
“We have created a new scholarship for students, The Brad Agerup Memorial Fund, which is two $500 scholarships given annually to graduating seniors,” Thompson said.
“We have set aside three years worth of funds to cover it.
“We are looking to add two more years of funds by the end of the 2011 school year.”
"We would like the community to know that we are up and running and that we are strong,” she said. “We would love to see more people at meetings.
“If anyone is interested, they can check out the Mariner Boosters link on the Mariner High School website.”
Meeting times and locations are listed on the website.
“We would love for people to join,” Thompson said.

Ex-pastor going to prison for duping investors in Indiana

A judge sentenced a southern Indiana church financier to 54 years in prison Tuesday for pocketing millions of dollars that investors believed would be used to build churches.

Former pastor Vaughn Reeves, 66, had little reaction as officers escorted him from the courthouse in Sullivan, about 80 miles southwest of Indianapolis, said his attorney, who promised to challenge the conviction and the sentence. Reeves was convicted on nine counts of securities fraud in October.
"There's going to be an appeal on a lot of grounds," attorney Dale Webster said after the hearing.
Investigators said Reeves and his three sons used their now-defunct company, Alanar, and sales pitches that included prayers and Bible passages to dupe about 11,000 investors into buying bonds worth $120 million secured by mortgages on construction projects at about 150 churches.
Instead, Reeves and his sons diverted money from new investments to pay off previous investors, pocketing $6 million and buying two airplanes, sports cars and vacations, investigators said.
Prosecutors have said the case was a prime example of affinity fraud, in which scammers prey on people who share a common interest, such as religious affiliation, ethnicity or age.
"What they did in their company hurt a lot of people," said Jack Newman, 73, of Terre Haute, a retired vice president of marketing who said he invested about $26,000 with Alanar and so far has recovered just 20 cents on the dollar. "Justice needed to be served."
One of the victims who testified at Tuesday's sentencing hearing said he wasn't able to buy health insurance after investing $600,000 in church bonds from Alanar, Sullivan County Prosecutor Bob Hunley said. As a result, Steve Duncan testified that he went blind after developing an eye condition that would have been preventable.
Reeves' sons are scheduled to go on trial in March.
Special Judge Dena Martin sentenced their father to consecutive six-year terms for each of the nine fraud counts, which alleged that he victimized about 2,900 investors who lost a total of $13.1 million, Hunley said.
Among aggravating factors, Martin found Reeves targeted people over age 65 and used religion to influence them, Hunley said.
"We're very happy with the judge's decision," Hunley said.
The judge gave Reeves credit for cooperating with investigators after he turned himself in.
Alanar used a modified Ponzi scheme in which it diverted investors' money from their building projects to speculative investments and to interest payments on other bonds, according to the Indiana Secretary of State's Office, whose Securities Division assisted prosecutors in the case.
Alanar encouraged church members to sell the bonds to fellow congregants using sales pitches that included prayers and Bible passages.
"Never sell the facts, sell warm stewardship and the Lord," Alanar training materials said, according to the Securities Division.
Martin ordered public defenders to handle Reeves' appeal. Webster, Reeves' current public defender, said the new attorneys haven't been selected yet.

Former Cave Spring, Virginia Elementary PTA treasurer indicted

The former treasurer of the Cave Spring Elementary School PTA was indicted on forgery and embezzlement charges. Melissa Brown Neal faces nine felonies.

In court documents, prosecutors allege Neal wrote checks jointly to herself and the PTA president but then endorsed them in her name only. The six forgery charges total $7,426.

Neal, who is 37 years old, was arraigned on the charges Monday and released on an unsecured bond. A trial date was set for February 3.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Brandon, Vermont woman accused of stealing from UVM

A Brandon woman is accused of stealing from the University of Vermont.

UVM Police believe 34-year-old Olivia Chicoine misused her university-issued credit card, racking up between 17 and 22-thousand dollars worth of merchandise over a 10-year period.

Chicoine worked as a secretary and gift shop supervisor for the UVM Morgan Horse Farm in Weybridge. Investigators say she signed her boss's name on expense reports so she could buy groceries, gas, clothes, farm supplies and other items for her personal use.

Chicoine pled not guilty to embezzlement in September but on Monday her lawyer updated the court, saying his client is working on making restitution. Court documents show Chicoine resigned her job at UVM when the allegations came to light.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Two cases of embezzlement go to court Monday in Indiana

Two cases of embezzlement in the Michiana area go to court on Monday.

The former treasurer of the Goshen High School band is scheduled to learn her sentence. Vincenta Linda Barrios pleaded guilty last month to four counts of felony theft. Barrios admitted to stealing more than $10,000 from the band's Boosters fund.
Meanwhile, the former commander of the Indiana State Police Toll Road post has his first court appearance on Monday after being arrested last week.
Dallard Tackett, 58, faces 17 criminal charges, including six counts of forgery, 10 counts of theft and one count of official misconduct. Police say Tackett stole more than $90,000 from the department. He is being charged in Elkhart County where most of the transactions took place. Tackett resigned back in august after allegations first surfaced.

Sunday, December 5, 2010


Fifteen months later, Frank Kenavan said, the shock is starting to wear off.
Kenavan is executive director and business manager for Warwick Community Ambulance Association, an organization rocked by the September 2009 arrest of his predecessor, James A. Reynolds, on charges that he'd stolen $500,000 in agency funds.
Reynolds used the money to pursue his dream of opening a hunting supply business, buying jet skis, hunting rifles, clothing and more. He was convicted in late October and sentenced to up to five years in state prison.
"It was a slap in the face to just about everyone involved," Kenavan said. "Some people said, 'What were you doing, how could you let this happen?' " But overall, he said, the community was supportive, the losses insured.
"I think there were signs," Kenavan said, "but all his explanations made sense. I don't want to say we were naive — but we were cocky enough to think this could never happen to us."
Over the past few years, it's been happening to a growing number of businesses, nonprofits and individuals in Lancaster County.
Since July 2008, at least 16 individuals who lived or worked in Lancaster County have been charged with or sentenced for fraud or embezzlement of $100,000 or more.
In addition, last month federal officials handed down indictments against five county residents, charging them with taking part in a massive loan fraud at Sterling Financial Corp.'s Equipment Finance Inc., which forced the sale of the firm, parent company of Bank of Lancaster County, to PNC Financial Services Group in 2007.
Local experts and authorities are at a loss to explain why there has been such a spike in major cases in Lancaster County. Greed, everyone agrees, plays a key role; a faltering economy may be another factor, though many of the crimes took place during the mid-2000s, before the downturn.
Others suggest Lancaster County's small-town aesthetic may be a factor. Things like this don't happen here, many believe. That attitude, said Dr. Joe Galante, a professor of accounting at Millersville University and certified fraud examiner, makes it much easier to pull off the crime.
"In a place like Lancaster County," Galante said, "someone with less than ethical standards can have a field day."
More fraud?
Lancaster County District Attorney Craig Stedman said that while he doesn't have exact statistics, "it does appear that we have had an increase in significant white collar cases the last few years."
The Sterling Financial case is perhaps the poster child for this white-collar wave. In mid-November the U.S. Attorney's Office in Philadelphia charged Joseph Braas, Lititz; Michael J. Schlager, Lancaster; Mary C. Stankiewicz, Misty L. Kroesen and Curtis Kroesen, all of Manheim; and three Alabama businessmen with participating in a loan fraud scheme at Sterling subsidiary Equipment Finance Inc., which cost $53 million in losses.
Sterling had acknowledged the alleged fraud in 2007; the following spring the firm was sold to PNC Financial Services Inc., which resulted in 300 Sterling workers being laid off.
Several other local organizations have been crippled by fraud. Officials with the Penn Manor Soccer Club said the club nearly folded after it discovered a former treasurer, Terry Feeser, had stolen some $180,000 from the organization. Feeser, who also stole $120,000 from Landisville Camp Meeting Association, where he served as treasurer, was sentenced to up to 20 years in state prison last December.

The Rawlinsville Fire Company lost members and had problems with fund-raising after its treasurer, Vicki Ann Messier, was charged with stealing $192,000 from the organization between 2003 and 2009. Though Messier was sentenced last month to up to two years in county prison, fire company President Charles Grimasuckas still fumes over "the carnage this worthless product of society caused our organization."

"This affected an entire community not just its fire house," Grimasuckas said.

"Cases such as these stand out because they can devastate a business or organization," District Attorney Stedman said. But the devastation isn't always just fiscal: The profound betrayal of trust inherent in the crimes can shake an organization, even individuals, as much as actual losses.

When banker Nicholas Poneros was sentenced to county prison in July 2009 for fraud, he was described as a good, honorable, kind man. He gave toys to the needy at Christmas; he tirelessly served his church and community.

But he also stole some $110,000 from eight customers at the Manheim Township bank where he was manager, some of them elderly members of his own church. In sentencing Poneros to four to 23 months in county prison, Judge Joseph Madenspacher noted that Poneros took advantage of the very trust he had cultivated.

That's exactly how many pull it off, said Ed McMillan, a certified public accountant and member of the Society of Certified Fraud Examiners who has written a book on "Preventing Fraud in Nonprofit Organizations" and speaks at seminars on the topic.

"I've been involved in about 300 fraud investigations, and I've never seen a perpetrator who didn't have the appearance of honesty," said McMillan, of Forest Hill, Md. "It's just human nature: If you didn't trust me, you wouldn't put me in that position [of trust] to begin with."

Drug habits

On occasion, fraud is driven by addiction. Michael J. Burk was sentenced to house arrest in August after being convicted of buying more than $100,000 worth of merchandise on the account of the Pennsylvania Dutch Convention & Visitors Bureau, where he worked, and selling the merchandise online. Prosecutors said he did so to support a cocaine habit.

Michelle Hildebrand, a former secretary at St. Anne's Catholic School, was sentenced to up to two years in prison for stealing $163,000 in student tuition money to support her family — including treatment for a son addicted to drugs.

But Stedman says avarice is usually the motive: "Most were people who were plain and simply greedy, had the opportunity to take advantage of their positions and then stole from and betrayed their organizations."

Suzanne Youngblood, a professor of criminal justice at Harrisburg Area Community College's Lancaster campus, suggested that people at or nearing middle age are particularly susceptible to the lure.

"When people get to middle age they're thinking, 'Am I ever going to be able to have the things I want?' And you suddenly realize, with a job that pays $35,000 a year you're never going to get it.

"Then you're suddenly entrusted with money, and it becomes very enticing," she said. "You want to fulfill your dreams, and you think you can get away with it."

Many of the local fraud cases saw perpetrators buying luxury goods with the money they stole. Juanita Michelle Piechowski, convicted in 2008 of stealing $620,000 from her employer, Creek Hill Nursery in Leola, used the money to buy an Alfa Romeo sports car, a Ford Mustang convertible — and breast enlargement surgery.

When Vicki Ann Messier was convicted last month of stealing $192,000 from the Rawlinsville Fire Company, she told Judge Dennis Reinaker she took the money to pay her family's debts and save her faltering marriage. Reinaker wondered how the pickup truck and boat she bought with the money fit that explanation.

People who commit fraud "realize that everyone else has a fancy vacation and a cool car, and they say, 'I'd like to have a BMW too,' " said Youngblood. And to retain access to the money they steal, "some go out of their way to maintain a level of trust" and cultivate the impression of honesty.

Small organizations in particular often have no choice but to trust those who handle the money. Volunteers can be hard to come by; and stringent audit procedures often don't exist.

Plus, said Galante, the Millersville accounting professor, there's an inherent atmosphere of trust in many small nonprofits: "You can't accuse Marge — Marge has been with us for 25 years!" Galante said.

And for every case that makes the headlines, Galante thinks there are probably 10 that haven't even been reported to the police.

"Nobody wants to go to the newspaper and hear, 'I guess you deserved this, how could this happen?' " he said. "It's easier to just dismiss the employee and say, 'We'll just eat the rest and keep it quiet.' That's particularly tempting in a small community like this."

Checks and balances

But Kenavan, the Warwick Community Ambulance Association official, said support from the community can also help an organization survive fraud.

"With [the association's] commitment to keep doing what they wanted to do, and the support we got, we got through it," he said.

He also learned a lesson. "I don't want to tell people you have to be paranoid," he said. "But you really do have to know your people, you have to have your checks and balances in place."

But ultimately, he said, "when you put a person in a position of trust, you have to trust them.



Since 2008, 16 people here have been charged with or sentenced for fraud involving thefts of $100,000 or more:

• Vicki Ann Messier, 35, of New Providence, sentenced Nov. 18 to one to two years in county prison for stealing more than $192,000 from the Rawlinsville Fire Company between 2003 and 2009. Messier had been the fire company treasurer.

• James A. Reynolds, 40, Lancaster, sentenced Oct. 27 to up to five years in state prison for stealing nearly $500,000 from the Warwick Community Ambulance Association between January 2008 and July 2009. Reynolds had been the organization's general manager, executive manager and treasurer.

• Shawn Chambers-Galis, 48, Mount Joy, convicted in federal court Sept. 9 of embezzling more than $273,000 from Donegal Settlement Services, a firm she co-owned, between 2005 and 2008. She has not yet been sentenced.

• Michael J. Burk, 42, Lancaster, sentenced Aug. 10 to three months house arrest and probation for purchasing more than $100,000 worth of computer and electronic merchandise on the account of the Pennsylvania Dutch Convention & Visitors Bureau, where he worked.

• Dr. Saroj Kumar K. Parida, 50, Manheim Township, sentenced June 16 to eight years in federal prison and three years in supervised release for health care and mail fraud, and ordered to pay $7.1 million in restitution. Parida, a neonatologist, submitted millions of dollars in fraudulent medical bills to 23 different health care benefit programs, including Medicaid, between June 2003 and March 2009.

• Joseph A. Graziola, 35, Lititz, was charged May 20 by federal authorities with mail fraud, allegedly operating a credit-repair business,, collecting $120,000 in payments without ever providing a service.

His case has been referred to federal court in Minnesota.

In a separate case, Graziola pleaded guilty in federal court in Minnesota to defrauding Richfield, Minn.-based Best Buy by submitting fraudulent invoices on behalf of his shipping company for the shipping of electronic equipment that was never performed.

• Melissa Marie O'Donnell, 30, Philadelphia, sentenced April 21 to six to 23 months in county prison for stealing more than $140,000 from the Faulkner car dealership companies in Dauphin and Lancaster counties, where she worked as an accountant.

• Steve A, Brubaker, 56, Elizabethtown, sentenced March 30 to up to 23 months in county prison, plus seven months probation, for defrauding nine clients of his insurance business of $214,000, beginning in 2005. Brubaker convinced the clients to invest in worthless securities, promising to invest in "charity funds" with their money..000

• George L. Clayton Jr., 29, sentenced Jan. 25 to house arrest and probation for stealing $320,000 from Union National Bank in Manheim Township, where he worked. After stealing the money, Clayton forged loan applications in customers' names for about $900,000, trying to cover up the crime. He subsequently jumped off the Columbia-Wrightsville Bridge, but survived.

• Terry Feeser, 53, Willow Street, sentenced Dec. 29, 2009, to five to 20 years in state prison for stealing more than $300,000 from Penn Manor Soccer Club and Landisville Camp Meeting Association. Feeser was treasurer for both organizations.

• Glenn L. Martin, 73, Manheim Township, arrested Nov. 20, 2009, and charged with stealing more than $153,000 from two Park City businesses where he worked as auditor. Martin's case has not yet gone to trial.

• Tiffany Ann Bleacher, 35, of Chestertown, Md., arrested July 27, 2009, and charged with embezzling more than $180,000 from Walter & Jackson Inc., a Christiana-based building supply business where she worked as controller. The case has not yet gone to trial.

• Nicholas Poneros, 67, sentenced July 14, 2009, to four to 23 months in county prison, four years probation and 100 hours of community service for stealing $110,000 from customers at M&T Bank on Manheim Pike, where he was the manager.

• Barry Herr, 63, Lancaster, sentenced Nov. 21, 2008, to 30 months in federal prison for stealing $1.1 million from the Lower Susquehanna Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America over a period of 20 years. Herr was treasurer for the organization.

• Juanita Michelle Piechowski, sentenced July 8, 2008, to 7 1/2 to 19 months in prison for stealing $620,800 while working as an office manager for Creek Hill Nursery in Leola.

• Michelle Hildebrand, 48, Manheim Township, sentenced July 6, 2009, to one to two years in prison for stealing $163,000 in tuition money from St. Anne's Catholic School from 2004 to 2008. She was a secretary at the school

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Ex-band booster club officer charged with embezzlement in North Carolina

A former officer with a band booster club faces charges of taking money from the club’s funds.

Jacquelyn King, 47, of Statesville is charged with five counts of embezzlement.
According to Iredell County Sheriff’s Office reports, King was a member of the Warrior Tribal Council board for West Iredell High School’s band.
When new board members were chosen this past summer, they noticed discrepancies in the finances for the booster club and notified the sheriff’s office.
An investigation was conducted and, this week, King was charged.
Her bond was set at $10,000.

Aldine, Texas charter school sues Spring man

A charter school is suing after a former employee wrote himself a $240,000 check from the school’s account.

Texas Serenity Academy Charter School filed a lawsuit on Dec. 1 in the Harris County District Court against Don Johnson, Freddie Oliver and Damon Meeks alleging fraud, embezzlement, misapplication of fiduciary property, theft, interference of contract, trespass, robbery and other crimes.
The school states that on Nov. 29, 2010, Johnson, of 3806 Cypress Key Drive in Spring, went to Wells Fargo Bank, located in Kingwood, and closed four accounts, two credit card accounts and all debit cards belonging to the school.
According to the brief, Johnson then had the bank write him a cashier’s check in the amount of $240,000. Afterward, the school says Johnson had Meeks, an attorney located at 245 Commerce Green Blvd. in Sugar Land, along with Oliver, a private investigator, and two Houston police officers eject current employees off school property.
The plaintiff is seeking a restraining order against the defendants, forcing them to stay away from the school and its current employees.
It is being represented in the case by Houston attorney Tina Andrews.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Church worker charged with embezzlement in New Mexico

An Albuquerque maintenance man has accused of stealing thousands of dollars from the church where he worked.

Police arrested William Graeme, 41, after he was charged with using a Home Depot credit card belonging to the St. Marks on the Mesa Church in the Northeast Heights and racked up $6,000 in charges.
Officers reported he was caught on store surveillance using the card with his girlfriend and another man.
He is charged with embezzlement over $500 and conspiracy involving unlawful use of a credit card, according to court records.

Warren, Ohio coach investigated for embezzlement

A Warren Local Schools coach being investigated for embezzling money from another organization has been asked to resign from his district position until the matter is settled.

The individual was hired as an assistant coach this fall before district officials were aware of an investigation into possible missing funds from a youth wrestling league the coach was formerly involved with.
The Marietta Times is not publishing the name of the man since no charges have been filed. The team only has one paid assistant position.
Warren Superintendent Tom Gibbs said asking for a voluntary resignation isn't an indication that anyone in the district believes the coach committed a crime but rather a way to keep students out of a potentially messy situation.
"We believe very strongly that someone is innocent until proven guilty and it's easy to throw false accusations around," he said. "We don't know what happened. But we had to weigh that against the level of public turmoil surrounding the situation and the fact that this is a part-time job and not the person's living. ... We want to make sure any continued employment wouldn't cause damage to the program."
If the coach decides to resign, it would likely be accepted at the next board of education meeting, Gibbs said.
He could possibly later be rehired if he's legally cleared, said Gibbs. The position pays $2,044.
Warren wrestling coach Aaron Schetter said there is only one paid assistant position on the team, and the individual asked to step down from it has already agreed to do so.
Washington County Sheriff Larry Mincks confirmed an investigation into "apparent misappropriation of funds from a Warren wrestling program" but would not say how many people are being investigated or whether charges are likely.
The investigation "spans back quite some time," he said.
"There is an absence of record-keeping, which makes it more challenging, and with it being a financial case it's always time-consuming to get the records and interview various people," he said. "We're continuing our investigation and when we complete it, we'll send it to the prosecuting attorney for review for indictment."
Mincks said a definite figure that might have been taken hasn't been determined but that it seems to be a large amount of money.
"It's more than a few hundred dollars," he said. "We've not established a definite figure, and we would like to have that before we present the case to the prosecutor."
Gibbs said district administrators have been questioned at least twice since last spring by officers from the Washington County Sheriff's Office about the missing funds and about two people involved with the youth wrestling league.
The league is independent from the district, although it uses school facilities, and no one from the school system oversees the management or the finances, he said.
"We have nothing to do with them; we don't consider them a booster organization," Gibbs said. "They use our facilities, but that's it."
Gibbs said after the coach was hired and Gibbs then found out about the investigation, he initially took a "wait-and-see approach" to see if there would be a quick legal resolution. The coach has no access to district money through the coaching position.
"We didn't want to rush to a decision," he said. "But we've had a lot of concern from parents, and it doesn't seem like we're going to have an answer soon, so we thought it would be in the best interest of the students to ask for the resignation until all the dust settles."
Gibbs said there are other assistants who can handle coaching responsibilities in the meantime.

Former youth soccer chief gets 2 years in California

A former La Quinta youth soccer commissioner

pleaded guilty Monday to embezzling more than

$100,000 from the organization.
Sharon Schumaier, 42, was immediately sentenced

to a two-year state prison term by Riverside County

Superior Court Judge Thomas Douglass.
The judge also ordered her to pay $113,000 in

restitution to the La Quinta American Youth Soccer

As part of the plea, 39 felony counts of

embezzlement were dismissed, which Deputy

District Attorney Earl Roberts called a ``fair

resolution of the case.
“Mrs. Schumaier has received an appropriate

sentence for her actions, and, hopefully, everyone

she betrayed can now begin to move on,” Roberts

said. “It will be a long road, but everyone involved

can take some solace in the fact that Mrs. Schumaier

is behind bars in state prison where she belongs.”
Laura Quattlebaum of La Quinta, whose two children

played in La Quinta AYSO for six years, called the

news “awesome.”
“Justice is served,” she said. “I'm glad she finally did

it, accepting the responsibility and suffering the

“I felt bad for the kids, though,” she added. “But

kids are resilient and are out there to have fun.”
That Schumaier confessed to allegations she'd

previously outright denied was sweet justice for the

organization, said Andrew Nielsen, regional

commissioner for La Quinta AYSO.
“She went into court and had to admit to stealing the

full amount we alleged — $113,000. That was a big

thing for us,” he said.
Schumaier was asked to leave AYSO in June 2009 for

failing to provide financial records.
She wrote checks from the AYSO's bank account to

her husband and their company, Desert Cities

Automotive in Indio, over a two-year period,

according to a declaration in support of an arrest


Investigator Brad Farwell, who prepared the

declaration, said Schumaier lied on her application

to AYSO about two previous convictions in Los

Angeles and Orange counties.

Schumaier pleaded guilty to grand theft of personal

property and money laundering in Orange County

Superior Court in January 1996. She was convicted

of forgery in Los Angeles County in July 1997.

She wrote the checks to her company without

approval from AYSO, according to Farwell. A co-

signer on at least 11 of the fraudulent checks told

investigators that the signatures were not his and he

had no knowledge of the checks.

Schumaier also admitted Monday of using a friend's

name to fraudulently obtain checks on a credit card


The identity theft case stems from earlier this year,

when an acquaintance of Schumaier contacted Indio

detectives to allege that she had taken financial

documents from a home without permission in May,

said Indio police spokesman Ben Guitron.

Schumaier tried to forge documents in an attempt to

transfer funds into her account, Guitron said.

Nielsen said the organization was glad to have the

Advertisement case behind them so they can concentrate on the

current and next soccer seasons.

Quattlebaum has since moved her children to the

Desert United Soccer Club in Palm Desert because i

t's more competitive — not because of Schumaier,

she said.

“No, because she was outnumbered by good

people,” Quattlebaum said.

Great Falls, Montana Woman Charged in Soccer Club Embezzlement Case

The former Electric City Soccer Club Administrator accused of stealing tens of thousands of dollars from the club is sentenced today in Cascade County Court. In court today Kelly Martinez entered a plea agreement with the State. In exchange for a guilty plea to felony theft by embezzlement she would receive a deferred sentence; she would not have to go to jail and would be order to pay the full restitution amount.

 Martinez is accused of stealing anywhere from $20,000 to $80,000 from the club through fraudulent payroll checks. Court documents say she forged another person's name on a check and wrote checks to herself and her husband, who worked as a coach for the club. The court ordered her to pay the full restitution amount of over $41,000, of which, she has already paid about $21,000.
Judge Neill told her in court today how her actions impacted the community. Judge Kenneth Neill says, "You let these folks down, this soccer organization and these kids, you have many friends who have come forward and stuck their neck out for you, and expressed their hope and support for your future."
Martinez will serve six years, all deferred in adult probation. Among other orders, she cannot consume alcohol, drugs and must report to her probation officer. The court also ordered Martinez to pay a minimum $200 a month until the restitution is paid in full. Now John Parker, Cascade County District Attorney stated during the course of this case, numerous complaints were voiced from the soccer club who was angered by Martinez’s actions.

Missouri teacher accused of stealing cheerleader funds

A former Grove teacher and cheerleading coordinator has been charged with embezzling more than $8,000 from the high school’s cheerleading fund.

The district attorney’s office in Delaware County filed an embezzlement charge Monday against Michell D. Martin, 53, of Grove.
Martin, who taught English at Grove High School, resigned Oct. 26 after being confronted by Superintendent Sandy Harper about a shortfall of funds collected for the benefit of the school’s varsity cheerleaders.
Grove police were contacted about the matter Oct. 27 and interviewed Martin the next day, according to an affidavit.
The cheerleading coordinator allegedly admitted to police that she had been diverting school funds into “Nationals Cheerleading” or “Cheer Boosters” accounts she had set up at Grand Savings Bank in Grove since 2009.
A police review of bank records determined that she had diverted a total of $5,685 of school funds in 2009 for personal use and an additional $2,585 this year, according to the affidavit.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Columbia University Is Hit With $4.5 Million Bank Fraud .

A Bronx man allegedly modified a Columbia University bank account to embezzle millions from the school, DNAInfo reports.
In a criminal complaint, George Castro is alleged to have been “familiar with the university's accounts payable system.”
The school claims he added an unauthorized account to the school's electronic payment system, into which he funnelled more than $4.5 million.
Not according to him. He has no idea how the funds found their way into his account.
Whatever happened, after Columbia realized a new account had been added to its system, they reported it to police, who then arrested Castro at his Bronx residence.
From the NY Post,  Castor allegedly modified a university account and added a TD Bank account to it as a payee, DA investigators said. The TD Bank account received over $3.4 million in funds from Columbia University accounts in October and $1 million in November. The money was then withdrawn in cash from the new account.
Castro says the funds simply appeared in his account.
Not helping his trustworthiness: Investigators found $200,000 in cash in a bag at the home, and also seized an Audi worth over $80,000, which was parked out front.
He is being held on $2 million bail.
A 48-year-old Bronx man has been arrested and charged with grand larceny for allegedly stealing nearly $4.5 million from Columbia University over the course of two months, authorities said Monday.

George Castro is accused of adding a TD Bank account belonging to him as a payee in the Columbia University Medical Center's accounts payable system, netting payments of $3.4 million in October and $1 million in November, authorities said. Mr. Castro, whose relationship with the university is unclear, was arrested Wednesday.

A law-enforcement official familiar with the case said Mr. Castro had $200,000 in cash in his possession when he was arrested and had withdrawn $140,000 the day before his arrest. According to a criminal complaint, Mr. Castro told investigators the money "just appeared" in his bank account and that he had gotten "greedy."

He allegedly admitted to buying an $80,000 Audi with the money, along with other undisclosed purchases, the complaint stated. The Audi, which was parked in front of his Admiral Lane residence in the Clason Point section of the Bronx, was seized by authorities.

Mr. Castro was arraigned on charges of grand larceny in the first degree and criminal possession of stolen property in the first degree and was being held at the Manhattan Detention Center on $2 million bail, authorities said.

David Fisher, an attorney representing Mr. Castro, said he expects his client to be "vindicated when all the facts come out." He declined to comment on Mr. Castro's alleged statements to authorities during his arrest and wouldn't say what Mr. Castro does for a living, except to say he is not an employee of Columbia University.

Douglas Levy, a spokesman for the university's medical center, said the institution is working "with law enforcement authorities and we cannot comment further."

According to the criminal complaint, the scheme was discovered early last week when an employee of the university familiar with the accounts-payable system noticed a massive irregularity. On Oct. 4, an existing payable account was modified to add a TD Bank account as the payee, the complaint said. The name on the TD Bank account was "IT Security Solutions LLC" and belonged to Mr. Castro, according to the complaint.

Officials with TD Bank told investigators that $4.4 million had been paid from Columbia University to that account in October and November and that some of the money had been transferred to accounts at other banks, including Capital One Bank, the complaint states.

The external fraud department at Capital One Bank told investigators those destination accounts were named to IT Security Solutions or Mr. Castro, the complaint states.

It was unclear Monday how the money was diverted from Columbia to Mr. Castro's accounts. The law-enforcement official said investigators were "still piecing together how [Mr. Castro] got the money wired to his accounts."

The law-enforcement official said Mr. Castro has two previous arrests for criminal possession of a weapon in 1991 and promoting prison contraband in 1992. New York State Department of Corrections records show he served almost two years in prison on a conspiracy charge.

Public records show that starting in August 2002 through October 2010, Mr. Castro was listed as the chairman and chief executive officer of Ryan Daelyn Technology Corp. A phone number listed for the company was not in service Monday

Monday, November 29, 2010

Ex Duke employee charged with embezzlement

A former Duke employee allegedly embezzled $267,000 from the University, according to an arrest warrant from the Durham County Magistrate’s Office.
John Cotton, age 49, is a former business manager in the Department of Surgery, said Michael Schoenfeld, vice president for public affairs and government relations. Cotton was removed from his position in August and has not been employed at Duke since then, he added.
In addition to the embezzlement charges, Cotton is accused of securing property under false pretenses. He allegedly abused his position to order products and services worth $58,706 for personal use.
“This kind of case is extremely rare, which is [why] we take it very seriously,” Schoenfeld wrote in an e-mail Sunday. “The University has a number of business and audit processes to protect against theft like this, but no system is absolutely foolproof.”
Cotton, who lives in Raleigh, was released from Durham County Jail Wednesday after posting a $25,000 secured bond.
The warrant notes that Cotton was “entrusted” to receive the funds he is charged with embezzling, but instead stole them for himself.
“He claimed the goods and services were for Duke business when it was not,” reads the warrant.
Doug Stokke, assistant vice president of communications for Duke University Health System, deferred comment to Schoenfeld.
DUPD Chief John Dailey could not be reached for comment.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Tennessee Church secretary accused of embezzling $1.5 million

A Southern Baptist church in East Tennessee is considering cutting back on ministries amid reports that a trusted employee of 47 years embezzled more than $1.5 million in church funds.

Police arrested Barbara Whitt, 68, longtime financial secretary at First Baptist Church in Morristown, Tenn., May 10 after a church audit found nearly $500,000 in funds were missing. She is out of jail on $175,000 bond.
By May 26 local media were reporting that the amount of money stolen could be $1.5 million, making it the biggest theft in the history of Hamblen County.
"We're not going to stop the programs entirely," First Baptist Pastor Dean Haun told the Knoxville News-Sentinel. "But we might have to tap on the brakes."
Haun, who came as pastor of the 1,800-member congregation in 2008 from First Baptist Church in Jonesboro, Ga., said the greatest thing Whitt stole was their trust. Though not a church member -- she belongs to nearby Grace Baptist Church, also a Southern Baptist congregation -- Haun said members of First Baptist viewed her as family and would have helped her if she had a need.
Whitt, a widow, is accused of writing 1,647 checks to herself between January 2008 and mid-April of this year. Investigators say that each of the checks was larger than $900 and totaled an average of more than $50,000 each month.
Taken from an account that funds things like scholarships and ministries, the checks would allegedly start in the church's accounting program made out to "cash." Whitt would then get one of the church's authorized officials to sign the check, add "Barbara Whitt" on a typewriter and then cash it during her lunch hour at a Police said they don't know the motive for the alleged thefts. Neighbors said they had noticed her making a lot of large purchases recently and thought she might have won the lottery.
Whitt is scheduled to face a grand jury July 2. If convicted she could be sentenced from eight to 12 years in prison.
First Baptist Church reportedly filed a civil lawsuit against Whitt to try to stop her from selling any of her property. Grace Baptist Church also has filed a civil lawsuit against Whitt and her son, Michael, who owns a business called Whittco Electric Company housed at her home.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Swim Team Treasurer Admits Embezzling $175,000 From Organization in Ohio

Has the cost of chlorine shot up that much in the past few years that you wouldn’t notice nearly two hundred thousand dollars missing from your team bank account? Either Lynn Gottschalk was one of the biggest con artists to ever walk the streets of Ohio or, as we suspect, parents of the Sycamore Flying Fish club were so glad someone was watching their little ones that they just kept writing bigger and bigger checks without asking for a full accounting of how the funds were being spent.

Lynn Gottschalk admitted Wednesday that she stole as much as $175,000 when she was treasurer of a swim team. Gottschalk, 50, of Montgomery, became a convicted felon when she pleaded guilty to theft, a crime that carries a maximum prison sentence of 18 months. She stole the money from the Sycamore Flying Fish swim team when she was treasurer from September 2004 to August 2009. “The theft began almost immediately upon her taking the position of treasurer,” said Mark Seger, team president when the theft was discovered. Financial records, Seger said, show Gottschalk used team money to pay for items that included car payments, summer camp for a child, a vacation cruise and theater tickets. Those expenditures were some of the spending that left the team nearly bankrupt by the time Gottschalk’s five-year tenure as treasurer ended in August 2009.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Redding, California School District superintendent Kempley plans to resign

Redding School District Superintendent Diane Kempley, whose district has been shaken by turmoil, announced Friday that she plans to retire.

Kempley told her district office staff and the principals of the eight district schools that she plans to retire, said Denise Yergenson, president of the district board of trustees.
Kempley said Friday night that she plans to retire June 30, unless the board hires a new superintendent before then.
“It’s been an honor to serve the Redding School District,” Kempley said.
Yergenson said Kempley’s decision to retire had nothing to do with the controversy that erupted in the district after the arrest in August of Wanell Stolz, the wife of former board president Rein Stolz.
“It was her decision. She’s done an excellent job,” Yergenson said.
The Redding School District has hired a Sacramento law firm to investigate alleged conflicts of interest and hiring improprieties surrounding the Stolzes.
Wanell Stolz was arrested in August and charged with grand theft and embezzlement. She is accused of stealing about $13,500
from the Sycamore Elementary School Parent Faculty Club and stealing Sycamore school property.
Stolz has pleaded not guilty to the charges.
After her arrest, district employees said the Sycamore Elementary School librarian received preferential treatment because her husband was president of the school board.
“We’re in the middle of an investigation there, and I’m totally committed that we did the right thing,” Kempley said Friday night. “I think it’ll be settled long before I settle my chapter” when she leaves the district in June.
Kempley, who has worked for the Redding School District for the past 40 years, has been superintendent since July 2005.
After working 18 years as an elementary teacher in the district, Kempley was a principal at Bonny View Elementary School for 11½ years and principal at Sequoia Middle School from 2001 to 2005.
Kempley, too, said the Stolz controversy did not play a role in her decision to retire.
She noted her 40 years with the district and chief business officer RoseAnn Adams’ recent announcement that she is retiring at the end of June. Kempley said she wants to give a new superintendent the chance to hire a new chief business officer for the district.
Kathy Kuhn, the district’s human resources director, resigned last summer.
Kempley said that the board will hold a special meeting Dec. 3. The board then can begin the process of finding a new superintendent, she said.

Former Northwestern Michigan College employee allegedly embezzles money

A former Northwestern Michigan College employee is accused of pocketing more than $43,000 from college coffers through cash bar and event reservation deposits.

Grand Traverse County prosecutors this week charged Laura Margaret Wilson, 41, of Traverse City, with embezzlement of more than $20,000 by an agent or trustee. Judge John D. Foresman arraigned her Friday in 86th District Court on a felony charge that is punishable by up to 10 years in prison and/or $15,000.
Wilson worked for two years as an office manager at Northwestern Michigan College's Hagerty Conference Center, where she collected money and made cash deposits. Officials fired her in September amid reports of missing money.
Wilson received a $2,000 check in April that would have reserved the Hagerty Center for a wedding. But Wilson asked that the check be made out in her name, as opposed to the Hagerty Center. The check writer eventually canceled the reservation but had difficulty receiving a refund because the check was made out to Wilson.
That sparked an investigation by college officials. Wilson admitted she deposited the check into her personal account, which led to her termination, police reports show.
"The college's financials are audited every year, and there was nothing that turned up in any of those audits," said NMC spokesman Paul Heaton. "We asked the auditors to take a more extensive look at things."
The auditor determined Wilson was responsible for more than $43,000 in missing funds from cash bars and event reservations that never were recorded on bank deposits.
"I am ashamed and embarrassed beyond comprehension," Wilson wrote in a statement to police. "Financially, I was spinning out of control, and I truly wish to pay back all of the monies I have taken. When I was taking the money, each time I told myself I needed to pay it back and replace the funds. Obviously, this did not happen, and the result was my termination of employment and now facing the court."
She told police she used the money for day-to-day expenses.
"I would like to repay the money and correct the situation," Wilson wrote. "I am still very ashamed for the person I became while working at the Hagerty Center."
Wilson didn't return a call for comment. She remains free on a $5,000 personal recognizance bond.

A former Northwestern Michigan College employee wept in court as she addressed her former colleagues.

"I'm sorry," she said. "I stand before you today, and I'm so very sorry."

Laura M. Wilson, 41, of Traverse City, apologized Friday to her one-time coworkers as she awaited punishment for pocketing more than $59,000 from NMC. Wilson plans to reimburse NMC for money she stole from cash bar and event reservation deposits.

"The decisions that I made were the worst in my life," said Wilson, who is undergoing counseling. "I'm committed to learning why, and I'm trying to correct that."

Her apologies didn't prevent 13th Circuit Court Judge Philip Rodgers from sentencing Wilson to nine months in jail and five years probation. She is allowed work release, court records show.

"This is a very significant amount of money, and it occurred over a long period of time," Rodgers said.

Last month, Wilson pleaded guilty to a felony count of embezzlement of more than $1,000 but less than $20,000 by an agent or trustee. Grand Traverse County prosecutors dismissed a count of embezzlement of more than $20,000 in exchange for her guilty plea.

Wilson worked for two years as an officer manager at NMC's Hagerty Conference Center, where she collected money and made cash deposits. Officials fired her in September amid reports of missing money.

She received a $2,000 check last year that would have reserved the Hagerty Center for a wedding. But Wilson asked that the check be made out in her name, as opposed to the Hagerty Center. The check writer eventually canceled the reservation, but had difficulty receiving a refund because the check was made out to Wilson.

That sparked an investigation by college officials, and Wilson later admitted she deposited the check into her personal account, which led to her termination. She told authorities the money was used for day-to-day expenses.

Former church administrator in California pleads no contest to embezzlement

A former administrator at Calvary Chapel Chino Hills has pleaded no contest to embezzling money from the church. Farrukh Ahmed, 48, entered his plea Thursday in Chino Superior Court as part of an agreement with prosecutors that carries a nine-month jail sentence.
Ahmed's plea bargain also calls for him to be placed on probation for three years and to pay $25,000 in restitution to the church. The Ontario resident is scheduled to be sentenced Dec. 20.
Ahmed was arrested in December by San Bernardino County sheriff's deputies who accused him of embezzling about $750,000 from the church between 2006 and 2009.
Deputy District Attorney Will Wooten said that Ahmed is required to repay only $25,000 because prosecutors felt they would have been unable to prove the embezzlement was as extensive as church officials believed.
"What they believed he had taken and what we could prove were two different things," Wooten said.
Ahmed, who has been free on bail since his arrest, must surrender to authorities Jan. 7 to begin serving his jail term, according to his plea agreement.
His attorney, Jackie-Lynn Adams, did not return calls seeking comment Friday.

Athletic Director Sentenced For Stealing From School District

A former athletic director for Adams 12 Five Star School district was sentenced Thursday for taking $20,000 from ticket and concession sales during games.

Steven Patrick Atwood, 41, was sentenced to seven years of probation, including 90 days work release to be served at the Adams County jail.
Atwood had pleaded guilty to felony embezzlement of public property in August. As part of that plea agreement, he agreed to pay $20,000 in

Prosecutors said Atwood stole thousands of dollars during sporting events held from September 2008 through May 2009.
Atwood resigned from his position in June 2009 when confronted with the allegations, which were uncovered during an internal audit. He had worked for 18 years with the Adams 12 Five School District.
He started in August 1991 and held positions as the assistant football coach, a work education teacher and dean of students -- all at Thornton High School. From March 2000 to September 2002, he was a districtwide driver's education teacher. He became director of athletics and activities in September 2002.
In July 2009, the Internal Auditor for Adams County School District 12 met with Thornton police regarding concern over discrepancies in money collected at school functions. Atwood was responsible for collecting and depositing money for school sporting events.
Financial reports generated by Atwood showed larger amounts collected than deposited.
“This case is beyond mere embezzlement or theft. It is a violation of trust," said District Attorney Don Quick. “This man stole from students, tax payers and the school district. In addition, given the current school budget situation, especially with teachers positions and salaries being cut, embezzling from a school is a particularly callous crime.”

2 moms charged with $30K school embezzlement in California

Two California moms have been charged with embezzling $30,000 from their kids' elementary school fund that pays for extras, such as hiring school counselors and kindergarten handwriting programs.

San Jose prosecutors say 42-year-old Jennifer Lee Vazquez and 28-year-old Wendi Marie Hayes oversaw the Baldwin Elementary Home and School Club account. Bank officials notified club officers because of unusual charges to Netflix, J.C. Penney, Old Navy and gas stations.
The two mothers, who were charged in July and are not in custody, face a Santa Clara County court hearing Dec. 16. Vasquez will enter a plea and Hayes will get a date for start of her preliminary hearing.
The San Jose Mercury News says they are charged with grand theft for allegedly pilfering funds from for seven months beginning in September 2009

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

School district audit finds fumbling on fund rules in Arizona

An audit launched during an investigation into allegations against former head football coach Kent Holland alleges Buena High School coaches have been mishandling money related to student fundraising for more than a decade.
On Tuesday, the school board decided in a 4-1 vote that the Colt Booster Club should transfer $40,000 back to the district to be distributed into designated student accounts.
An audit of the club’s disbursements over the past two years found $46,000 to $58,000 was spent in a way that was not allowable because it did not have a direct benefit to students, Superintendent Brett Agenbroad said. The misused funds combined with the club’s current account balances totaled $80,000 to $90,000, but the administration recommended the club transfer the district a settlement of half of the total funds in question.

After realizing the scope of the problem at the high school, the district performed an audit of all district-
affiliated parent-teacher student organizations, booster organizations and clubs. It found organizations not related to Buena athletics were handling their money properly.
Agenbroad said audit findings include:

• The Colt Booster Club was acting as an unauthorized ad hoc bank instead of funds being deposited in a designated district account.

• The club was receiving and disbursing student funds without apparent knowledge of or regard for district policy or Uniform System of Financial Records requirements.

• A long history of Buena High School athletic programs circumventing district policy.

• An established pattern that includes high school coaches, the athletic director and a high school business official being complicit in mishandling of funds.

The administrators primarily responsible for allowing the mismanagement are already gone, Agenbroad said. He later specified he was referring to former Buena Principal Tad Bloss and administrators before him who might have established or allowed the practices.

Agenbroad believes the coaches and booster club were merely following the lead of district staff, he said. Certain activities of staff that were potentially fraudulent were referred to the Sierra Vista Police Department and eventually came to the attention of the county attorney’s officer, as well as the county auditor. The county offices elected not to pursue any charges, citing low staffing and budgetary restrictions as part of their consideration.

The lack of direct punishment is why board member Deb Scott chose not to vote for the $40,000 settlement.

“I just have a problem with that much money being misappropriated, I’m not comfortable with it,” Scott said after Tuesday’s school board meeting. She believes district staff and booster club members should have been held accountable to a greater degree.

“For this to have gone on this long is absolutely a sin,” Scott said during her closing remarks at the meeting.

Former Buena Booster Club Treasurer Thomas Ransford admitted that coaches deposited money with the club directly, though the club did not ask where that money had come from.

“Of course we knew that some of the money was raised by students. We were unaware of that policy or the rules at that time,” Ransford said. When he started helping with the club, it was run by a single individual and no one advised club members they were doing anything wrong until recently, he said. The club then stopped accepting money from the coaches directly.

Ransford asserts that student money was never spent inappropriately and the club accounted for every penny. He mentioned that coaches were spending much of the money on clinics for other youths, which helped further the overall programs at Buena.

Ransford believes the $40,000 settlement to be inaccurate and highly improper, he said. He resigned after receiving a letter from the district demanding $60,000 be deposited into the district’s account. He believes that would be illegal.

“I would be violating my fiduciary duties by giving money that was not mine to another party without the request of the individuals that deposited with me,” Ransford said.

Bonnie Peterson, a member of the Booster Club, wanted to know who did not do their job in the first place in regard to making sure coaches, volunteers and everybody involved understood the policies.

“Who didn’t catch it at the beginning?” Peterson asked.

The district has implemented a re-education program at the high school to make sure the policies are understood and followed, Agenbroad said. “It is difficult to comprehend how with training, the receipt of a handbook, the signature saying, ‘My sponsorship and job is on the line,’ that things can become as fouled-up as they did.”

The Holland matter

The majority of the allegations made specifically against Holland, which resulted in his resignation as head football coach, were apparently unfounded.

“On or about June 22, I received five statements from recently resigned Buena assistant football coaches. In these statements were allegations of irregularities in the high school football program, and they implicated then- head coach Kent Holland as the cause of these irregularities,” Agenbroad said. “The allegations ranged from communication failure, student endangerment, vandalism, and the embezzlement and misuse of student funds.”

The district had a

third-party auditor conduct an investigation, which resulted in few noteworthy findings, Agenbroad said. The one that was significant was his handling of student activity funds, which was not in line with policy but was found to be no different than how any other coach at Buena handled them. The auditor recommended and the district decided to conduct its own audit of its clubs and organizations because the matter fell outside of the scope of the Holland investigation.

“He was exonerated of all allegations short of minor infractions regarding poor communication and lack of experience,” Agenbroad said. During the investigation, Holland was asked if he would consider the best interest of the football program and resign because the outcome of the student funding issue could have impacted his ability to finish the season as coach. Holland resigned this year less than two weeks before the start of official practice for the football season.