2008-04-03 / Community

Football booster club treasurer is arrested for embezzlement

He allegedly stole more than $30,000
By Joann Groff joann@theacorn.com

The man who served as Thousand Oaks High School Football Booster Club treasurer for more than 2½ years has been arrested for allegedly embezzling the money he volunteered to help keep an eye on.

Michael McCarley, 59, turned himself in to the Thousand Oaks Sheriff's Station March 12. Shortly thereafter he was arrested on suspicion of grand theft, having allegedly taken more than $30,000 from the club, according to Sgt. Mark Gillette.

McCarley is free on $10,000 bail.

"I know the booster club is obviously not really happy about that happening," Superintendent Mario Contini said. "There are steps being taken to take care of it and we are working on it with the booster club."

McCarley wrapped up his duties as treasurer in November, around the same time the investigation began.

Dep. Superintendent Jeff Baarstad said the high school's principal, Tim Carpenter, contacted him, Contini and Janet Cosaro, assistant superintendent of personnel services, around winter break.

"There was some concern among booster members who believed that there were some problems with financial records and maybe even money missing," Baarstad said. "We got all their records so we could do an audit. There was enough initial information that it was pretty clear right away that something was up."

Contini said when an audit was done of the club's finances, they "noticed something suspicious." Eventually they determined that more than $30,000 was missing.

Carpenter and the booster club called authorities, and after the audit was complete, Baarstad released a report to the club and to the sheriff's department.

The district does have an internal auditor, a result of a similar situation nearly 10 years ago at another school in the district. Baarstad said the auditor does random checks of booster books and also trains high school and middle school staff, as well as booster members, on financial responsibility.

Baarstad said the TOHS football booster club is going to follow the district's training regulations "more rigorously" from now on. Some examples of the rules include having two members count receipts, having the treasurer and an officer sign every check, never accepting checks made out to "cash" and keeping good records and receipts. " I ' v e been to a lot of workshops and seminars on bookkeeping and fraud prevention, and they say most of the time it's a good person in a difficult financial situation that has easy access to the money," said Baarstad, who emphasized that he doesn't know McCarley or the specific situation. "If you do things like (the regulations), the chances are much, much smaller of something like this happening.

"It's very sad," he continued. "Booster clubs are huge for programs like athletics and choir and band. Especially now you'll find that parent fundraising is paying the huge majority of the costs- they just wouldn't be able to operate without it."

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