Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Ex-Northside High School football coach faces embezzlement charges

A Roanoke County grand jury indicted former Northside High School football coach Burt Torrence on Friday on charges of embezzlement dating back to 2012, according to online court records.

Torrence, hired last summer as an assistant football coach at Heritage High School, was indicted on four counts of embezzlement of public funds, four counts of embezzlement and four counts of obtaining money by false pretenses, online records show. All of the charges are felonies.

The offense dates, according to online records, range from February 2012 to February 2015.

The commonwealth's attorney, Randy Leach, declined to comment Friday. A schools spokesman, Chuck Lionberger, said the district does not comment on personnel matters, pending legal matters or pending investigations.

Torrence, who coached at Northside for 10 years and won two state championships, resigned his coaching position earlier this year. In April, he told the Roanoke County School Board that he collected a stipend to coach outdoor track but didn't complete the work. He volunteered to repay the stipends. A police investigation began the next day.

In an interview in June, Torrence backed away from his April comments, saying he did not admit wrongdoing when he spoke to the school board. His attorney, Les Bowers, said in June that Torrence was innocent.

"He, in fact, is completely innocent and has maintained his innocence all along," Bowers said in June. "My understanding ... is he said, 'If anyone thinks I did anything wrong, I'll pay it back.' But he doesn't think that he did [anything wrong]. ... We're not talking about a big amount of money."

Reached late Friday afternoon, Bowers said he was just seeing the news and was not yet prepared to comment.

Torrence was hired by Lynchburg City Schools to teach history and serve as an assistant football coach at Heritage High School beginning in August. Spokeswoman Cindy Babb said Torrence has been placed on administrative leave.

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