The former treasurer of the Springboro Athletic Boosters could wind up in jail Tuesday if he is unable to make full restitution for money he embezzled from the group he helped found more than 20 years ago.
During an Apri 11 hearing, Tom Harves admitted stealing $439,455. Harves has repaid all but $157,883to the booster group. The judge warned Harves, 61, of Springboro, he faced jail or prison if he was unable to come up with the rest of the money.
“I’m not making a commitment yet,” Judge James Flannery advised Harves in Warren County Common Pleas Court.
Harves is scheduled to appear again before Flannery at 10:30 a.m. Tuesday.
Last week, club President Afsoon McClellan indicated the boosters had yet to learn whether Harves would be able to raise the final sum.
“I have no knowledge that Tom is going to be turning over any money at all. The fact that restitution is necessary does not equate to restitution in actuality,” McClellan, president of the Springboro Athletic Boosters, said in an email.
Harves referred questions to lawyer Charlie Rittgers. “He will be able to make full restitution,” Rittgers said.
Warren County Prosecutor David Fornshell said he would have no information about Harves’ ability to pay the remaining restitution until Monday.
The status of the unpaid restitution also was discussed at a recent meeting of the Springboro Board of Education.
The boosters raise hundreds of thousands of dollars a year for Springboro school sports. Members of the board, weighing how many mills in property tax to ask voters to approve in a November renewal levy, queried Superintendent Todd Petrey on May 23 about whether the restitution would be available to defray the district’s athletic expenses.
Harves was expected to turn to family members to raise the final amount. McClellan declined to specify what the club would do with the restitution.
“When and if we receive the balance of the monies owed by Tom, the boosters board will consider how best to utilize those funds in accordance with our mission and with our charitable purpose,” McClellan added. “Our purpose and commitment has always been to the student athletes of Springboro junior and senior high schools, in as much as the Board of Education is willing to work with us towards this end.”
Harves pleaded guilty on April 11 to a single count of aggravated theft through a bill of information, rather than presentation of the case to a grand jury.
He surrendered his passport a week later, but has remained free on his own recognizance, pending the sentencing.
The booster group also lost its non-profit status before Harves was confronted by school officials and club members about missing money in 2012, prompting investigations by local police and a forensic accountant with the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation.
The tax-exempt status was revoked after the club failed to file tax returns for three consecutive years with the Internal Revenue Service. While the status is revoked, club funds and those donated to the group are subject to taxation.
In response to thefts and other problems with boosters and other community groups around state, the Ohio Attorney General’s Office has started requiring registration. The office also offers training materials and seminars designed to help volunteers running the groups avoid common pitfalls.
“The office has been reaching out to groups across the state to inform them of the new responsibility to register. Outreach efforts include letters to booster and parent/teacher groups and to school officials, as well as trainings in some communities,” Kate Hanson of the attorney general’s office said in an email.
State registration by charitable organizations
Ohio requires charitable organizations and groups that ask Ohioans for contributions to file annual reports with the Attorney General’s Office. These filings are public and contribute to accountability and transparency within the charitable sector.
Groups are required to use the online system to fulfill their duties under state law. Multiple individuals from each organization are encouraged to create accounts in order to receive reminders on filing deadlines, confirmation of filings, and other important information.
Use of the online system is mandatory for all charitable organizations. The online system replaces all previous forms used for filings.
For information, 1-800-282-0515.
Source: Ohio Attorney General’s Office
Booster Group Registration
Most Ohio charities must make annual filings with the Ohio Attorney General’s Online Charitable Registration System. Groups registering for the first time must provide a copy of their by-laws, constitution, or other governing documents and a federal tax exemption determination letter from the IRS, if one exists. To register your charity with the Ohio Attorney General’s Office: http://www.ohioattorneygeneral.gov/charitableregistration.
At least three leaders with each organization are encouraged to open an account in the Attorney General’s system so they can receive email reminders and confirmations of registration activities for the organization. Questions about the registration requirements or the system should be directed to the Attorney General’s Charitable Law Section at 1-800-282-0515 or email at CharitableRegistration@OhioAttorneyGeneral.gov.
Individuals who want to access information about charities that have registered should visit http://www.ohioattorneygeneral.gov/Business-and-Non-Profits/Charity/Research-Charities.aspx.