Saturday, June 1, 2013

Blissfield Boosters treasurer charged with embezzlement in Michigan

A Blissfield Athletic Boosters officer was arraigned Friday on a felony embezzlement charge in Lenawee County District Court for allegedly taking more than $33,000 since December 2009.
An attorney for Tara Lynn Rohlan said she is taking responsibility for the club’s missing funds and has pledged to quickly repay the money.
“She stepped forward when the incident came into view,” said attorney David Stimpson of Tecumseh. “She’s absolutely in disbelief over the poor decisions she made.”
Stimpson said the 44-year-old Blissfield woman’s family was shocked to learn she had taken money from the booster’s account while
serving as treasurer.
“No one had any idea it was happening,” he said.
Boosters president Paul LaRoy said he is hopeful the damage will be repaired from the incident he called a tragedy for everyone involved.
“It’s just a sad thing,” LaRoy said.
Students who benefit from money the booster club raises are the victims in the case, he said.
“I feel sorry for the kids. It’s a sad thing that kids do suffer over the whole thing,” LaRoy said.
He said he expects the money will be recovered. Accounting practices have also been changed to ensure the mistakes will not be repeated in the future, he said. The safeguards were not thought to be necessary among the group’s members, he said.
“You put your trust in good people and sometimes it goes wrong,” LaRoy said.
Blissfield Police Chief Jane Kelley said the boosters club filed a complaint on March 27 after discrepancies were discovered in bank statements. A forensic analysis of the accounts found that money was taken starting on Dec. 12, 2009.
Some large amounts were sometimes taken, Kelley said, then $18,000 was paid back in September 2010. Then more money was taken again after that, she said.
A audit found a total of $33,187.36 was taken, Kelley said. The amount still owed is about $15,000.
Stimpson said Rohlan intends to repay it all.
“She’s doing everything she can to make everyone whole,” he said.
She is “tearfully remorseful” and humiliated over her actions, Stimpson said.
Rohlan was scheduled to return to district court for a preliminary hearing on June 10. She remains free on personal recognizance.
The felony embezzlement count she is charged with carries a maximum 10-year prison term.

Blissfield Police say Tara Lynn Rohlan was a member of the athletic boosters board.

They say the president of the board noticed some financial discrepancies in March and had an audit done. They then discovered more than $53,000 had been embezzled since February of 2009.

The audit showed an $18,000 payback made by Rohlan in September, but police say she still owes more than $30,000.

The athletic boosters group did not want to comment, but police say security has been tightened and new safeguards are in place with the group to prevent this happening again.

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