Sunday, February 9, 2014

Former high school dance coach charged with embezzlement in Michigan

 A former high school dance coach is accused of trying to sidestep the law when collecting money from her team.

Patricia Lee Daraban, 22, of Flat Rock was arraigned Jan. 22 on an embezzlement charge before 33rd District Judge Jennifer Coleman Hesson.

The charge is a felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison.

A preliminary examination of the evidence against her is set for Feb. 25.
According to police, Daraban is accused of embezzling more than $21,000 of school funds in the Woodhaven-Brownstown School District.

Police said Daraban had checks in her possession that she tried to manipulate and use for her own benefit.

According to Deputy Police Chief Robert Matthews, police confronted Daraban with the allegations Aug 26, 2013.

Matthews said the next day Daraban attempted to make full restitution.

By that time an investigation already was underway and there was evidence that a crime may have been committed.

The evidence was presented to the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office, which brought forth the charge.
The district, along with the Brownstown Township Police Department, began investigating accounts under Daraban’s supervision back in August.

According to Mark Greathead, school superintendent, district officials became aware of alleged illegal activity in connection with the dance team when vendors began calling and questioning unpaid bills.

The superintendent said the dance coach was hired through a third-party contractor.

That company was contacted and told her services were no longer wanted at the school, according to district officials.

During that same time frame, Zac Stevenson, the district’s athletic director, resigned.

Greathead said Stevenson is not suspected of any wrongdoing and his resignation was a mutual agreement.

Stevenson was responsible for athletic department activity at that time. The dance team is under the auspices of the athletic department.

A trip to Orlando in January 2013 involving a dance competition and an overnight dance camp in July of 2013 are among the events under investigation, according to Greathead.

“It’s difficult to say (exactly) how much money we are talking about,” Greathead said. “We are trying to get to the bottom of it.”

There are 10 girls on the dance team. Each, according to district officials, gave Duraban money to participate in the dance competition, as well as the camp.
The girls also were involved in several fundraisers and that money was turned in to the dance coach.

“She had been with the district for about four years,” Greathead said. “There were a few parents who questioned where fundraiser money was going, but other than that there were no complaints about her.”

The superintendent said parents questioning fundraising money is not all that unusual.

A new dance sponsor has taken over the team.

“She has stepped up for the girls and they have been quite successful,” Greathead said. “They closed the season out last week as state champs in division two in varsity pom. Their hip-hop routine took third place in the state. They are a very talented group of girls.”

Jim Kalisz, who was the district’s previous athletic director, has taken over those responsibilities on an interim basis.

Greathead said the district is in the process of setting up interviews for hiring a permanent athletic director. A total of 64 candidates applied for the job.

“I’m impressed with the number of applicants, as well as the variety of experience they have,” Greathead said. “There are a lot of quality candidates.”

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