Monday, September 27, 2010

Waynesboro, Virginia youth football league finances probed

Waynesboro police are investigating possible embezzlement at Waynesboro's youth football league, according to court records obtained Monday."Suspicious" transactions caught the attention of a Waynesboro Quarterback Club board member, prompting a police investigation, according to a search warrant affidavit filed by a detective seeking bank records.Police are reviewing Quarterback Club transactions from June to September because the club account contained less money than it should have, the affidavit states."Also there were several transactions which were not approved by the board," the affidavit states.The club oversees youth football teams with players ages 8 to 13. In the last year the league has grown substantially, to about 180 players and 60 cheerleaders, said a city official.Board members did not immediately return calls Monday afternoon.Club Football Coordinator J.R. Coffey declined to comment because the investigation is ongoing, but he said football season will not be interrupted.

Authorities have charged a woman and her mother with embezzling money from a Waynesboro youth football league, police said Friday.

Former Waynesboro Quarterback Club President Amber Michelle Hite and her mother, Sarah Frances Hite, the organization’s former treasurer, turned themselves into police Wednesday and were released on unsecured bond, Waynesboro police Sgt. Becky Moran said.
Club Vice President Dawn Jones said $6,000 in club money disappeared earlier this year, prompting the police to begin what Moran called a tedious, line-by-line investigation of credit card and check transactions.
Authorities declined to say how much money was embezzled from the club.
Board members said they removed the Hites in October from their positions with the organization.
“Financially, we’re starting to get back on track,” Jones said. “The organization is currently running on a positive, out of the red.”
The club oversees youth football teams and cheerleaders for children ages 8 to 13. In the last year, the league almost doubled from 170 to 260 kids, officials said.
A police search warrant filed in Waynesboro Circuit Court in mid-September described a series of “suspicious” transactions from June to September that caught the attention of a board member.
Club Football Coordinator J.R. Coffey said much of the embezzled money was cash from the concessions stand, leaving no paper trail.
“It doesn’t look like we’re going to be getting back anything near to what they took from the Quarterback Club and the kids,” Coffey said.
League leaders said they changed how they track profits from concessions sales to curb future losses. The organization raises money through car washes and concessions stand sales to purchase equipment and uniforms and to pay referees.
Jones said the club’s bylaws prohibit refilling the Hites’ positions until February. An election must determine replacements.
Under the Hites, the club made $600 a week from concessions, Coffey said. After other board members assumed control of the stands, profits increased by nearly 168 percent to $1,600, he said.
Brian Edwards, a Waynesboro police sergeant and a parent, described the embezzlement investigation as an “unwanted distraction” that took attention away from an otherwise good season. He did not work the case.
Edwards said parents with children in the program agree to a code of conduct before the season begins. His son has played five years.
“When we sign that, and then we hear that there’s alleged impropriety among certain board members and the funds, it’s very disheartening,” he said. “We want to make sure the money is going to the Quarterback Club, because we work so hard for it.”
Amber Hite appeared in Waynesboro court multiple times in 2008 and once in 2010 in civil cases in which payday lending and loan institutions pursued unpaid funds, in some cases by garnishing wages. She has appeared multiple times in Augusta County court for payment cases involving Augusta Health.
Amber Hite formerly was a sales representative at The News Virginian.
Attempts to reach the Hites for comment were unsuccessful.

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