Shelby County Woman Indicted on Charges of Stealing More than $20,000 from Public School

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Shelby County grand jurors this month indicted a former high school football booster club treasurer on one count of theft more than $10,000 and one count of forgery under $2,500.

This, according to an audit Tennessee Comptrollers released this week.

That treasurer, Valerie Baker, allegedly spent booster club funds totaling at least $20,152 for personal reasons, according to the audit.

“From May 2018 through September 2018, Baker used a booster club debit card that was issued to her and wrote checks on the account to convert at least $20,112 in club funds to her personal use without the authority or knowledge of other booster club board members,” auditors wrote.

Baker allegedly used a debit card to do the following:

• At least $8,059 in cash by making 27 ATM withdrawals.

• Made $3,301 in unauthorized purchases at Walgreens, Target, Walmart, and Kroger.

• Used the debit card to make eight payments totaling $3,302 to Westlake Financial Services on a personal car loan.

• Wrote six unauthorized checks payable to cash totaling $5,450 and cashed the checks for her personal use.

“On January 3, 2019, without the club’s knowledge and consent, Baker wrote a $2,000 check on the club’s account, signed the president’s name and attempted to deposit it into her personal checking account,” according to the audit.

“Since that account had been closed by the club’s president, Baker was unable to successfully access club funds with that check. The bank refused to credit her account and notified the club president immediately.”

Houston High School, where the thefts allegedly occurred, is in Germantown.

Comptrollers faulted school personnel for not separating financial duties to provide proper oversight.

Baker, for instance, received and counted collections, made disbursements, and prepared and delivered deposits to the bank. Other booster club officials did not review the bank statements, auditors wrote.

Comptrollers also faulted school officials for not documenting fundraising and other collection activities and for not depositing all collections promptly and intact.

“Houston High School Football Booster Club officials indicated that they have corrected or intend to correct these deficiencies,” auditors wrote.

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Chris Butler is an investigative journalist at The Tennessee Star. Follow Chris on Facebook. Email tips to chrisbutlerjournalist@gmail.com.

 

 

 

 

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