Kentucky

Band Booster Treasure Summoned on Charges of Theft and Fraud

Barr-Reeve Band Booster Treasurer Sheryl Chestnut of Loogootee has been summoned to Daviess Superior Court on December 10th to answer to charges of theft and fraud.

This information comes to us from out media partner the Washington Times-Herald.

Officials report they believe Chestnut stole more than $30,000 from the band boosters account that was building up to pay for a trip for the students to Orlando, Florida. The missing money was reportedly discovered when Barr-Reeve music teacher and band director Stephanie O’Brian began checking on the funding for the trip.

“Stephanie set up meetings with the kids to see how much more money was needed,” said Barr-Reeve Superintendent Travis Madison. “As she began to look at it she could see that there was not nearly enough money in the account. At that point she went to the bank and had the records pulled and then she brought them to me.”

Madison said that after reviewing the accounts he turned the case over to the Daviess County Sheriff’s Department for further investigation, who later turned it over to the prosecutor’s office. “Since then the treasurer has been removed from access to the account, and we are trying to recover as much money as we can,” said Madison. “We are looking for full restitution. The investigation is close to the end. We want to make sure we do right by the kids.”

Officials point out that while the name of the band boosters contains the name Barr-Reeve, the organization is independent from the school system. “We have a lot of angry parents,” said Madison. “I am one of those angry parents. We have had a hard time tracking the missing money, because most of it was made out in checks for cash to herself. We know there were several times when there would have been cash deposits but we were not sure whether all of the money went in. We do know there should have been a substantial amount of money in the account to go toward paying for the trip.”

Daviess County Deputy Prosecutor David Lett is handling the case for the county. “Sheryl Chestnut took a considerable amount of money,” he said. “We are working with the school to try and get everyone as much money back as possible.”

At this time the students’ trip to Florida has been cancelled because of the money missing from the booster account. However, Madison believes there may still be a chance to salvage something. “We are going to meet with the parents and discuss the situation,” said Madison. “We are going to look at and consider the options. It may mean that we have to do a lot more fund raising or perhaps cut the trip a little shorter. What would be great would be if someone would put up the $20,000 that we no longer have.”

One thing that has come out of the situation is that the school system is going to change the way organizations like booster clubs handle money. “We talked with the State Board of Accounts and they told us that this kind of thing happens a lot,” said Madison. “They estimate that it happens 20 or more times a year. We are working with them to put in some safeguards and keep it from happening again. We have set up protocols to make certain the money is safe and the kids are better protected in the future.”

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