Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Guilty plea in Middletown embezzlement case in Virginia

A Middletown man took money from the high school's sports boosters program to pay personal business expenses, prosecutors said Monday.
Charles Edward Staley, 51, pleaded guilty to one count of theft less than $1,000 from the Middletown High School Sports Club Inc.

Before entering his plea Monday, Staley paid $22,714 in restitution to the organization as part of the plea agreement, Assistant State's Attorney Erin Pearl said.
Staley is the former vice president of the group, which provides support to the sports programs at Middletown High.
He will be sentenced on the charge, which carries a maximum penalty of 18 months in jail and a $500 fine, on April 30. Staley's defense attorney, Paul Kemp, will ask for probation before judgment at the hearing. Pearl said she will leave that decision to the judge.
If the case had gone to trial, prosecutors believe they could have proved that Staley made several personal payments using the money from the group's account for concession sales, which he managed.
In August 2012, board members began to believe money was missing from the account. A subsequent investigation by the Frederick County Sheriff's Office found a number of payments made from the boosters' account for purchases for J.B. Seafood, a Middletown restaurant. Staley said his wife owns the restaurant.
Other purchases included 12 transactions at Sam's Club, 10 transactions at Food Pro of Frederick, six charges to Coca-Cola Refreshments USA, and two checks to H&M Wagner & Sons, a vendor the sports club says it doesn't use. Four checks for $1,500 or more were written for cash; the checks had memo lines indicating they were for change at sporting events, but the group denied that the events occurred or that so much change was needed for them.
“We do contend that a lot of those were for the boosters,” Kemp said of some of the expenses. Nevertheless, Staley paid $22,714, the amount the sheriff's office reached in the investigation, to close the case.
The boosters group felt that more than the $22,714 was missing.
Keith Powell, president of the boosters, said the concessions account generally made two large deposits to the group's general fund account each year. The last deposit before Staley took over was made in 2010. In the five seasons under Staley, the concessions fund lost $500, Powell said. So far this year, the account has cleared more than $34,000, he said.
He said the theft took a toll on the organization.
“In the middle of the summer, we were just about out of money to pay our bills,” Powell said.
The group pursued the criminal charges even after being reimbursed.
“We wanted justice,” Powell said. “We felt that this was someone entrusted to volunteer for the kids. We never in a million years would have thought they'd steal those funds.”
State's Attorney Charlie Smith said his office spent a lot of time investigating and prosecuting the case because of the amount of the theft and the long time period when money was taken, between March 19, 2011, and May 26, 2012.
“We knew that these were funds that belonged to the kids and were going to his business and not being paid back,” Smith said.
He said there are two to three cases of theft from youth organizations or nonprofit groups that reach his office each year. In many cases, the person accused of theft immediately repays the money and the groups decide not to pursue charges.
“These cases are not uncommon at all,” Smith said.
In December, Daphnie Virginia Campbell, 48, pleaded guilty to committing a theft scheme between $10,000 and $100,000. According to police charging documents, Campbell used $36,613 in dues paid by Mid-Maryland Girls Basketball League members to cover personal expenses, including groceries, veterinary and dental bills, and a $455.50 trip to a spa.
Campbell's mother contacted the league and paid $9,800 in restitution, asking that her daughter be allowed to repay the stolen funds on a payment plan and that Campbell's name not appear in the newspaper, according to the charging documents.
Campbell was ordered to repay $24,813.08 and complete 100 hours of community service at her sentencing hearing Dec. 13. She received a 15 year suspended prison sentence and must complete five years of supervised probation.
Even police organizations aren't immune to theft.
In 2007, a former manager for the Frederick Police Department's Fraternal Order of Police lodge pleaded guilty to embezzling at least $45,000 to support a gambling addiction. In 2008, a husband and wife, both former Frederick County Sheriff's Office employees, pleaded guilty to misappropriating $18,500 from that Fraternal Order of Police lodge. The couple said it was the result of a bookkeeping error.

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