Friday, November 30, 2012

Man sentenced for church embezzlement in Wyoming

A man who stole more than $100,000 from a Wyoming church is headed to prison for longer than he expected.

A judge Thursday went beyond the recommended sentencing guidelines and sentenced James Kulfan to between eight and 20 years in prison.

Kulfan stole at least $125,000 from St. John Vianney Catholic School and Parish in Wyoming, where he worked as the business manager.

He also stole more than $19,000 from a Catholic youth charity with which he was associated, allegedly to pay back money he took from the church.

"I can understand and sympathize with a person taking what doesn't belong to them to put food on their table and a roof over their families head," Father Michael James Alber of St. John Vianney said at the sentencing. "But this isn't what Jim did. Jim Kulfan used what he stole from the parish of St. John Vianney to live a sordid life in strip clubs, to gamble and to rent and furnish his own apartment."

The judge called Kulfan's behavior outrageous.

He said the sentencing guidelines of three to five years didn't go far enough and gave Kulfan a minimum sentence of eight years.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Ex-teacher waives hearing in embezzlment case in Arizona


A former Wagoner High School teacher charged with embezzlement waived her preliminary hearing Tuesday in Wagoner County District Court.

“We expect she’ll take a plea agreement, but we’re working out rules and conditions,” assistant Wagoner County District Attorney Stephanie Milburn said.

Susan Elizabeth Spaulding, 38, was charged Sept. 13 with embezzling almost $143,000 between 2007-2011.

Spaulding pleaded not guilty the day after being arrested. She’s scheduled for a District Court Arraignment at 1:30 p.m. Dec. 17.

Spaulding was a “career tech” teacher at Wagoner High School when she resigned in 2011. Court documents state she embezzled $142,983.60 by creating fictitious invoices and submitting them for reimbursement.

The affidavit states a Wagoner Police Department detective obtained invoices from Wagoner Public Schools showing “Beth” had claimed to purchase items for her classroom with cash, and then requested the school reimburse her.

The school system requested an audit of Spaulding’s classroom in order to look for some of the items for which she’d been reimbursed, but many of those items could not be found.

The school’s auditor said he searched a school-issued computer in Spaulding’s classroom and discovered invoices had been created on it.

Spaulding was suspended after the audit discovered she’d been reimbursed more than $140,000. The affidavit stated an attorney contacted WPS Superintendent Monte Thompson received an offer from a lawyer after Spaulding was suspended stating Spaulding would like to pay the money back. Thompson declined that offer, according to the affidavit.

Ohio archdiocese sues ex-worker, says he embezzled

The Archdiocese of Cincinnati and three of its parishes have sued the parishes' former business manager, alleging he embezzled a total of more than $350,000 over several years.
The lawsuit filed Monday in a Hamilton County court alleges Thomas Martin, of Mason, failed to deposit money into parish bank accounts, forged checks and paid fake bills to businesses that the suit says he controlled and that also are named in the suit. The lawsuit also says Martin skimmed parish collection deposits.
The archdiocese says it fired Martin and reported the allegations to the county prosecutor's office. No charges have been filed.
Martin's telephone number wasn't listed. Women answering phones at the two businesses named in the suit declined to comment.
The lawsuit seeks at least $353,000 and punitive damages

Monday, November 26, 2012

Charter school corruption

From the Washington Post:

Here’s how The Arizona Republic started a story detailing its investigation into charter school corruption in the state:

Board members and administrators from more than a dozen state-funded charter schools are profiting from their affiliations by doing business with schools they oversee.
The deals, worth more than $70 million over the last five years, are legal, but critics of the arrangements say they can lead to conflicts of interest. Charter executives, on the other hand, say they are able to help the schools get better deals on services and goods ranging from air-conditioners to textbooks and thus save taxpayers money.

Timothy Noah of the New Republic cited this and other charter school scandals in a piece entitled “How Charter Schools Fleece Taxpayers” that starts:

In government, if I help myself to taxpayer dollars, we call that embezzlement and I go to jail. In the private sector, if I help myself to taxpayer dollars, we call that innovation and I get hailed as a visionary exponent of public-private partnership.

Noah mentions other charter school scandals:

* This story in the Dayton Daily News starts:

Ohio taxpayers contribute millions of dollars to a Dayton-based charter school system known for the type of strong academic performance that would make any urban educator envious. But Richard Allen Schools are also becoming known for something less desirable: questionable oversight of how the schools are run and how their money is spent.

The story prompted the Ohio’s state auditor to investigate and recover some taxpayer funds from the schools.

* The San Bernardino County Sentinel reported that the county school district closed the Adalanto Charter Academy because “much of the academy’s academic imperative was suborned to the mercenary intent of those involved at the school.”

* And he mentions the 2008 investigation by my Washington Post colleagues David S. Fallis and April Witt that says:

The Post’s review found conflicts of interest involving almost $200 million worth of business deals, typically real estate transactions, at more than a third of the District’s 60 charter schools. The conflicts are documented in thousands of pages of internal charter board documents, land records, tax returns, audits and other records reviewed by The Post.

This is actually the tip of the iceberg. You can learn more at a Web site called

No, this is not an indictment of all charter schools. Some do great things for kids. It is, however, the tip of an iceberg that is repeatedly ignored by school reformers who are insistent on opening more and more charters without sufficient oversight, all along saying it is “for the kids.” Funny so many adults apparently think it is more about their wallets.

Probing Ohio school board member says concentrated power, secrecy led to massive embezzlement

Embezzlement doesn’t happen by accident, particularly in a small school district where many people have been working together for years.

It’s fostered by a culture of concentrated power, secrecy and financial negligence, sometimes dating back years.
And it becomes more likely when concerned school board members are kept out of the loop and told to mind their own business, even though they are elected to help govern the school district.

That’s what happened in Ohio’s Cuyahoga Heights school district, according to Dr. Holly Thacker, a school board member who continued to ask questions until she managed to uncover a massive financial rip-off of the district.

The Ohio state auditor recently accused Joseph Palazzo, the district’s former technology director, of cheating the district out of $4.2 million by improperly approving payments to seven technology vendors that were operated by his friends and relatives.

Some products and services that were purchased by the district were never delivered, according to the state auditor. Some were delivered but were apparently re-sold to or given other people who had no connection to the district.

Criminal charges have yet to be filed, but the FBI is investigating the situation and the school board recently voted to sue in an attempt to recover the missing funds.

Thacker says the entire situation might have been discovered much sooner, or perhaps prevented altogether, if district administrators and school board members had been more attentive and open to inquiries.

“I think it’s easy to steal money from public schools when everybody is so close – teachers, board members, the union, administrators,” Thacker told EAGnews. “If you don’t have checks and balances, that isn’t a good thing.”

Culture of complicity?

The Cuyahoga Heights school district is a small, prosperous district in the middle of Cuyahoga County, not far from Cleveland. It had an annual budget of about $14.6 million in 2011.

Thacker, the mother of three students in the district, got her first taste of local school politics when her husband served on the Cuyahoga Heights school board between 2002 and 2006.

Thacker was elected to the board in 2010 and soon became concerned about financial accountability. She noted that many significant expenditures were made without prior board approval.

But she said nobody seemed receptive to her questions or concerns.

At one point she said the former superintendent, Peter Guerrera, told her she was not allowed to contact the school’s attorney, and the district treasurer told her other board members “wouldn’t like her” if she contacted the attorney. She said her fellow board members, many of them longtime veterans, acted as though she was sticking her nose into business that shouldn’t concern her.

She said few officials responded positively when her husband called for a complete material audit of the district at a board finance meeting in November 2010.

By December 2010, Thacker said she was so frustrated with the lack of information that she refused to vote yes on any district expenditures.

“When I joined the board, the former superintendent suggested I join the dress code committee, but I asked for an appointment to the financial committee,” Thacker said. “I knew we were going to have to go for a (property tax) levy soon, and I was disappointed that there had not been regular finance committee meetings in more than four years.

“I felt I wasn’t getting the information pertaining to financial questions I had. Bills were being paid without financial approval or scrutiny. I was told that schools don’t budget like businesses.

“I sat in executive meetings and had school attorneys, administrators and board members scream at me because I was asking questions. It looked to me like a culture of complicity, with so many people related to each other, or friends with each other, in a small community.”

Demanding the truth

Thacker said she first noticed a seemingly large amount of money being spent for technology purposes in the summer of 2010. She and her husband did some research and found very little information online regarding some of the technology vendors receiving money from the district.

That November she noticed a small entry in the school auditor’s report referring to “excessive expenditures” for technology products and services. She said she demanded more information but received few responses from fellow board members or the administration.

She also became concerned about the longtime presence of three supposed volunteers working in the district technology office. She later found out there were being paid by some of the vendors that were doing business with Palazzo.

“I began asking questions and I was told technology costs a lot of money,” Thacker said. “I wondered why we were spending so much money on laptops when we don’t use laptops anymore. I noted the name of one of the vendors – Laptops and More – and I was told the expenses had to do with the ‘more’ part.”

In January, 2011 Thacker authored two new policies that were adopted by the school board. One required all expenditures over $5,000 to have prior approval of the board. The other required school personnel making purchases to disclose any personal connections they may have with vendors.

Palazzo responded by disclosing that two of the vendors receiving school district money were owned by his brother.

“Once that happened, I was increasingly concerned,” Thacker said.

Thacker contacted the state auditor’s office and reported what she knew. Another school board member apparently went to the interim superintendent, who took over when Guerrera retired in December, and told her about the situation.

Thacker also became worried about the safety of her family and contacted the county sheriff. Thacker and her husband met with the sheriff in early February, shared their information, and were told to keep quiet.

Discovering huge losses

In late February, 2011 the school board decided to pull a scheduled property tax millage proposal off the school ballot due to “financial irregularities.” They also voted to suspend Palazzo, who resigned shortly afterward.

About the same time federal, state and local authorities started a criminal investigation, and the state auditor started a special technology criminal audit of the district. The state ordered the school board to pay for that audit at a cost expected to be in the $40,000 to $60,000 range, Thacker said.

School board members were not briefed on the results of the criminal audit until October 8 of this year. On Oct. 16 state Auditor Dave Yost held a press conference to disclose the findings of the audit to the public.

In short, the audit found 436 payments made by the district to seven companies owned by relatives or friends of Palazzo between July 1, 2007 and Feb. 22, 2011 for a total of $3,844,155. The district received no apparent goods or services for the payments.

The audit also identified 179 payments totaling $336,495 for goods and services which were “diverted for purposes unrelated to district operations.”

Kickbacks may also have been involved. The audit uncovered 347 payments totaling $1,308,194 from four of the vendors to Palazzo, after district payments were made to those companies.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation continues to look into the situation, but no arrests have been made or charges filed.

School boards should be the boss

The situation has left the small Cuyahoga Heights district in a state of alarm, according to Thacker.

Last week the school board voted to file a lawsuit in an attempt to recover the lost funds from Palazzo.

“People are angry, outraged and calling for longtime board members to resign,” she said. “Everybody is pointing fingers at everybody. People need to have all the facts. Things need to be done transparently.”

Amazingly that idea has not sunk in with everybody in the district, Thacker said.

Despite the huge financial losses and lack of accountability, several district officials have either ignored the policy requiring board pre-approval of expenditures of more than $5,000, or called for the policy to be dumped, according to Thacker.

“Are you kidding me?” Thacker said. “That’s the culture. But when you get a lot of power and a lot of money together it’s not a good combination.”

Thacker has a real problem with the traditional definition of a school board member.

While board members are elected by citizens to govern school districts, that’s usually not what they do. Instead they are told that their job is to set “broad policy,” then step back and let the “expert” administrators manage the districts with little interference or oversight.

The apparent embezzlement at Cuyahoga Heights demonstrates how that traditional policy can lead to big problems, according to Thacker.

“I think there is a big, huge concern when nobody is looking at what’s going on,” she said. “It’s ripe for problems. I remember sitting there in utter disbelief at the retirement party for our former superintendent. One board member was gushing about how wonderful it was to work for him. He didn’t work for him. The superintendent works for the board.

“Boards have to be involved. You can’t take things at face value, and you can’t be deterred when you’re accused of micromanaging. The board should be the boss. There has to be checks and balances.”

Former Shelby Public Schools superintendent agrees to repay $21,000 in embezzled funds in Michigan

Scott Gordon Lund, the now-jailed ex-superintendent of Shelby Public Schools, has agreed to pay nearly $21,000 in restitution to the school district – 50 percent more than he was first thought to have embezzled.
In exchange for full payment and other conditions, Lund may earn a reduction in his conviction from a felony to a misdemeanor.

Lund, 55, of New Era, has agreed to pay $20,927.42 in restitution to the district he once led, according to Oceana County Prosecutor Terry Shaw. Shaw said the school district agreed to forego $1,300 in attorney fees.

Lund is lodged in the Oceana County Jail, serving a sentence imposed Oct. 1 by Oceana County Circuit Judge Anthony A. Monton after Lund pleaded guilty to embezzlement by a public official of more than $50, a felony. Monton sentenced Lund to nine months in jail, with four months of it to be served at once and the rest at the judge’s discretion, and 18 months on probation.

The issue of restitution was postponed until a court hearing that originally was scheduled for Monday, before the matter was settled. Lund had earlier agreed to pay restitution of $14,129, the amount mentioned in police reports of his embezzlements, but before sentencing Shelby school officials said the amount stolen was substantially higher.

That issue was resolved by Lund’s agreement to pay the higher amount, Shaw said.

Under the terms of his July plea agreement with the prosecutor, if Lund serves the jail term, pays full restitution and successfully completes probation without further violations, he will be allowed to plead guilty to a misdemeanor and have the felony conviction removed from his record.

A second count of retaining a financial transaction device without consent was dismissed under that plea agreement. The “device” was an Oceana High School gasoline credit card.

Lund was charged in January 2012 with using school funds to buy himself more than $13,000 worth of items, including a large-screen TV set, a treadmill, three iPads, material to build a deck and Wesco gasoline cards.

Lund resigned as superintendent of Shelby schools effective Dec. 21, 2011, after being placed on paid leave Dec. 8. He had held the top job for about a year, previously serving as principal of Oceana High School and of Ferry Elementary School.

The embezzlement happened from Nov. 14, 2009, to Dec. 24, 2010, according to the charge. For most of that period, Lund was principal of Oceana High School.

The credit card offense allegedly took place from July 1 to Dec. 6, 2011. In that period, Lund was superintendent.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Former banker Donnie Wright facing federal embezzlement charge in Texas.

A prominent former local banker is facing federal embezzlement charges after being accused of stealing from his employer — apparently through his church’s accounts — for more than three years.

The federal grand jury Wednesday indicted Donnie Wright, a top local executive with Bank of America, on one count of embezzlement of funds by a bank employee.

The indictment says only a sum of more than $1,000 was taken, and the theft took place between May 2006 and January 2010.

A lawsuit Community Baptist Church filed in September 2010 against Wright and Bank of America claiming civil theft, fraud and breach of fiduciary duty puts the loss at more than $375,000.

Kathy Colvin, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Dallas, confirmed Wright’s identity, and said she could not comment further.

Wright could not be reached for comment.

It is unknown whether Wright has retained an attorney. Chuck Lanehart, who initially represented Wright in the church lawsuit, received the judge’s permission to withdraw from the case, saying in a pleading Wright had become uncooperative.

Wright is also in the middle of a divorce and is not represented by an attorney in that case, court records show.

He has not filed any documents in the matter and is the subject of a court order instructing him to respond to questions from his wife’s attorney.

Avalanche-Journal files indicate Wright had several titles reflecting increasing authority with the bank between 2006 and 2010, ranging from branch manager to local market president.

The time frame mentioned in the suit roughly coincides with the dates listed in the indictment.

That lawsuit contends Wright, a member of the church’s board of trustees, admitted to stealing from the church “over a lengthy period of time and concealing his activities.”

The suit says Wright admitted the embezzlement to church officials after the pastor’s paycheck was dishonored because the church’s primary operating account had insufficient funds.

According to the suit, Wright was the church’s banker, but was not authorized to sign the church’s checks.

He was, however, a signatory on certificates of deposit Bank of America issued to the church.

The suit says Wright had day-to-day control of the church’s business affairs from March 2006 to February 2010, which included reviewing bank statements and preparing financial reports for the church.

After Wright admitted to the embezzlement, the suit says, an investigation determined that, through his position as a bank officer, “systematically looted” the church’s accounts.

According to the suit, he made partial withdrawals from church certificates of deposit totaling more than $208,000, took almost $135,000 out of the church’s checking accounts through debit tickets, and negotiated checks for nearly $33,500, made out to himself and signed by people who were not authorized to sign church checks.

In 2011, the church dropped its claims against the bank and agreed to not refile, and later filed a motion to drop the suit against Wright, but with an option to refile at a later time.

According to court documents, Wright has not yet been arrested.

Wright, who grew up in East Lubbock, has been a prominent figure in African-American affairs in the community.

He has been a longtime officer and board member of the Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration Committee, and involved in local economic improvement efforts by connecting Bank of America with the East and North Lubbock Community Development Corp.

In 2009, the Lubbock chapter of Delta Sigma Theta, the African-American women’s sorority, honored him as man of the year for his work as a mentor to students at Parkway Elementary School and his involvement with the Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration Committee.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Roseville, Michigan woman gets probation in church embezzlement case

A 77-year-old woman has been sentenced to five years of probation for taking money from a church in Warren and has been ordered to repay $50,000.
Helen Gvozdich of Roseville was sentenced Tuesday in a Mount Clemens courtroom, avoiding the possibility of up to two years behind bars. She earlier pleaded guilty to embezzlement in an agreement with prosecutors. Court records say a judge also ordered her to perform community service.
The Macomb Daily of Mount Clemens reports Gvozdich said afterward: “None of this is true.” She didn’t elaborate.
Authorities said that in 2008-2009 Gvozdich took money from St. Stevan Decanski Serbian Orthodox Church in Warren.
Defense lawyer E. Philip Adamaszek says his client failed to obtain receipts when she paid funds to church members who bought things for the church.

Confessed embezzler also ran school finances in Vermont


The Weybridge treasurer who admits embezzling over $100,000 from the town also managed the finances of the town school district.
Karen Brisson resigned her position as Weybridge town clerk and treasurer after confessing her theft to the town select board. No criminal charges have been filed and the town is conducting an audit of its books to determine the full extent of the missing funds.
However, Brisson was also the treasurer for the Weybridge Town School District. School officials say they learned of Brisson's resignation from the town Monday. School superintendent Gail Conley said, "We are confident that no school funds are missing. However, to be 100 percent accurate we have hired out auditing firm... to do a forensic audit."

Monday, November 19, 2012

Ex-deacon is accused in embezzlement in Michigan

A former west Michigan church deacon accused of taking cash from the weekly offertory basket faces a felony charge of embezzlement of more than $20,000.

Joseph Finnigan, 72, of Grand Haven pleaded not guilty Oct. 12 during his arraignment. The 11-year employee of the St. Patrick's Catholic Church in Grand Haven was fired the previous week.

Finnigan faces a maximum 10-year prison term and possible fine. He is free on a $10,000 personal bond.

Finnigan's lawyer, James Brady, said his client has cooperated with police and church officials and "will continue to do so."

Lawyers will discuss the case Tuesday.

Ex-Sunnyvale, California PTA treasurer to be sentenced Monday for embezzlement.

When former PTA treasurer Dawn Saugen is sentenced Monday for embezzling $30,000, it will close a painful chapter at Vargas Elementary in Sunnyvale.

But the wounds from the deception will be slower to heal, and the trust harder to rebuild.

Saugen, 38, has already pleaded no contest to grand theft. Under the terms of the deal, she faces a maximum of a year in jail, deputy district attorney Paola Estanislao said. As part of the deal that dropped a forgery charge, Saugen agreed to pay at least $30,000 in restitution to the Parent Teacher Association.

Saugen became the Vargas PTA treasurer when her niece, who was in fourth grade, attended the school in 2011-12. From August through January, Saugen purchased gift cards, ostensibly for PTA fundraisers. She would intercept the PTA mail in the school office, then later had the cards shipped directly to her Palo Alto home.

The cards came from popular retailers such as Amazon, Walmart, Best Buy, Target and Nordstrom. She even arranged to get cards from American Airlines. In opening a debit account with a fundraising gift-card company, she forged then-PTA President Maria Dulay's signature.

The funds Saugen siphoned off would have paid for field trips, classroom supplies, teacher grants and assemblies at the school where 75 percent of students are classified as low-income.

Saugen, who has since moved to California's Central Valley, did not return calls seeking comment. Her attorney, Jerome Mullins, who also would not comment to the Mercury News on the case, did send a terse email response: "Don't you have anything better to do?"

Ordering gift cards

PTAs, like other volunteer groups, are built on trust and familiarity. So in January when Union Bank informed Dulay that the organization's account was overdrawn, Dulay said her first instinct was that there must be some mistake. Saugen was well known and visible around the school.

"You have to trust people who are volunteering," Dulay said.

But Saugen had regularly refused to provide treasurer's reports at PTA meetings, Dulay said, and instead offered various excuses like computer difficulties or illness.

After discovering the fraudulent orders from the gift-card company, Dulay and other PTA officers went to police. Saugen was arrested Feb. 17.

But some parents and students whom Saugen had befriended remained disbelieving. In angry meetings, some blamed other PTA officers for either not detecting the fraud or somehow being implicated, Dulay said. The criminal revelations sowed tension within families, as they struggled to reconcile them with the woman described as charming, friendly and seemingly caring about the school. .

According to Saugen's family members, this is not the first time money in her care has gone missing.

On Monday, relatives will present oral and written statements to Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge Kurt Kumli as part of the sentencing procedure.

They will say she has defrauded her grandfather, uncle, father, brother and in-laws of several hundred thousand dollars, sending several into bankruptcy as a result, said one relative who lost money to Saugen and did not wish to be named in the story.

"She's a professional," he said. "She's been doing this for 20 years."

Family accusations

Efforts to win justice or restitution have bogged down, he said.

Family members say Saugen has used the same techniques she employed at Vargas to gain access to existing credit cards. Daniel Drake, Saugen's estranged husband, accuses her of opening new credit accounts in others' names.

Drake, who is finalizing a divorce with Saugen, said about $1,000 vanished from a book fair at his children's school in the Central Valley, after Saugen took home the cash box.

The couple was married in September 2008 and separated a year later, Drake said, after he discovered theft from his and his parents' credit cards. He has won a judgment of $7,500 from her.

Relatives also scoffed at Saugen's claim in court that she suffers from post-traumatic stress syndrome from her military service. They said she did not serve in combat.

Drake said he plans to speak at the sentencing hearing: "I want to make sure the court knows just what this woman has put people through."

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Band boosters elect new officers after theft in California High School

From -

The Costa Mesa High School Band Boosters Club is moving forward with new officers, increased parental involvement and the community's renewed support after the arrest of a parent who allegedly stole $40,000 for the program.

Newly elected Boosters Club president Mariel LeValley said she has a new list of checks and balances she's going to ensure are followed.

"We need to have a good plan in place," she said. "We need to have parents in place. We need more parents. This is a big lesson to learn."

The Boosters Club held officers elections Monday evening for all positions after asking its treasurer and president — Jennifer Border-Piatti, 50, and her husband, Robert Piatti, respectively — to step down after Border-Piatti, a former Parent Teacher Student Assn. president, was arrested Oct. 25 on suspicion of embezzling from the club. Robert Piatti is not accused of any wrongdoing.

"I'm really impressed with how it's been handled," said parent Yvette Callender. "It's an unfortunate situation, but it's time to move forward."

LeValley said, in the future, two signatures will be required on checks, all bylaws will be followed closely and she wants to create a monthly parent auditing committee as well as bring in an outside auditor at least once a year.

Band Director Sandy Gilboe also said there will be no more ATM withdrawals.

Police allege Border-Piatti made credit card purchases and ATM withdrawals from the Boosters Club account that were not related to club business over the years.

The alleged theft was difficult on the students, but they also lost someone they looked up to, LeValley said.

For Alma Carrillo, 15 and Margarita Hernadez, 15, the situation has made them lose trust.

LeValley said she wants to regain that trust by getting students involved and building better relationships with the kids.

The school community has stepped forward by calling, texting and emailing LeValley to ask how they can help, she said. Parents outside the program have offered to volunteer and donated food to be sold at concessions to raise funds, she said.

Margarita said she's seen residents give more — two people even emptying out their entire piggy banks — during spare change walks after hearing what happened.

Gilboe has also seen an increase in donations, although not enough to cover what was allegedly stolen.

After the meeting, Gilboe began crying when a parent placed a $1,000 donation in her hand.

The program is looking for any help it can get whether it be through volunteering or money, LeValley said.

It costs about $60,000 a year to run a quality, competitive program for staff, competition entry fees, props and other costs, Gilboe said.