Originally created 10/06/04

Woman is arrested in booster club theft



A Martinez woman has been charged in the theft of more than $12,000 from the Lakeside High School Band Booster account.

The Columbia County Sheriff's Office arrested 43-year-old Sharon S. Nichols, former president of the booster club, on Friday, charging her with theft by taking, which is a felony.

Ms. Nichols, of the 3700 block of Winchester Trail, was freed after posting $25,100 bond the same day.

Her arrest was the culmination of a more than monthlong investigation by the sheriff's office into the missing booster money.

"It took several weeks in order to compile the case," Sheriff's Capt. Steve Morris said Tuesday. "It was a lot of records to review and audit - over a two-year period of time."

Martinez resident Nancy Scherer, the current president of the Lakeside booster club, reported the missing money to authorities Sept. 1 after an audit by the Columbia County Board of Education revealed a shortage of $6,363, a police report shows.

School system auditor Terry Greenan discovered the missing funds after Lakeside High School Principal Jeff Carney asked him to audit the booster club. Mr. Carney has said he questioned some of the booster club's accounting practices when vendors complained to him this spring about unpaid bills.

Mr. Carney is attending a conference in Atlanta until Thursday and was unavailable for comment Tuesday.

In his audit report, completed in August, Mr. Greenan wrote that 126 checks totaling $38,475.95 from the club were made out to either cash or Ms. Nichols. He also reported the booster club kept no receipts or invoices and no receipt books or records.

"We interviewed everyone who had access to the account," Capt. Morris said. "No one directed us to (Ms. Nichols). She was one of several who had access to the account. It was really a process of elimination."

Reach Donnie Fetter at 868-1222, ext. 113, or donnie.fetter@augustachronicle.com.