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Police: Ex-SLHS Booster Club Treasurer Embezzled At Least $60K

by Dave Emke — July 20, 2017 at 10:00 am 14 Comments

(This article was updated at 2:05 p.m. with comment from SLHS Principal Kim Retzer.)

Police say the former treasurer of the South Lakes High School athletics booster club pocketed tens of thousands of dollars from the club.

The Fairfax County Police Department says 58-year-old Robert Clinage took at least $60,000 from the club while volunteering as treasurer, a role he was in until last year.

According to their report:

After [Clinage stepped away] from his position as treasurer, other members noticed a large amount of money missing from the booster’s bank account. The boosters conducted an internal audit of their account which initially discovered the shortcoming. A subsequent criminal investigation began in December 2016, and charges were filed in June of this year.

As booster clubs are independent of school districts, Clinage was not an employee of the school. Kim Retzer, South Lakes High School principal, responded in an email sent to the entire SLHS community.

As many of you have seen, a former South Lakes Booster Club member was arrested recently for embezzlement of Athletic Booster funds. This is an on-going investigation so there is little I can comment on. What I can share is that I am grateful for the current Booster board members who have faced this situation head on and are fully cooperating with authorities.

Once the new board took over in the fall of 2016, they engaged a CPA to assist with the review of historical transactions and provide ongoing professional assistance. They have fully reviewed and revised the by-laws including implementing term limits and new criteria for board members. They also added an additional financial position to the board to increase safeguards for handling funds. Protocols around handling financial transactions have been further defined with additional safeguards put in place.

The Activities Office and I will continue to work closely with the Booster Club as they work through this situation. I am confident in the current board of highly dedicated parents who are focused on doing what is necessary to revitalize the Booster Club and provide support to our school.

Clinage turned himself in last week, according to FCPD, and was taken to the county’s Adult Detention Center. We have a request out to FCPD for further information, which will be provided once it becomes available.

Anyone with information about this incident is asked to contact the Fairfax County Police at 703-691-2131. Tips can also be submitted anonymously through Crime Solvers or by texting “TIP187” plus the message to CRIMES(274637).

  • Guest

    So, if a guy who steals tires gets 130 years in prison, what’s this guy going to get????

    • RestonAssurance

      White collar criminal so probably a less than stern lecture with a slap on the wrist.

    • Easy!

      He stole the tires from ten vehicles. Let’s say $500/tire so $20,000. He got 137 years. Therefore Clinage, who stole $60,000, will get 411 years in prison.

  • Enough

    Almost as bad as the Reston Community Center funding hate-speech.

  • Danga

    If this guy thought (stupidly, of course) that the club “wouldn’t notice” $60,000 missing (over how many years?) just how much money was that booster club making?

    • Rick

      Well, a few years back South Lakes barely made any money other than concession sales at games and swag at events. About $24G per year. I was asked to take over as Director of Fundraising in 2008 after telling people they were going about this the wrong way, and went all over Reston selling various levels of sponsorship to local business, from around $500 through $4500 for premier sponsorship, and within a month, in August, before school even started I had raised over $60K. We easily went over 100K that first year, I proved my point that this was do-able and then other people took over when my son graduated. My understanding was they kept up a lot of these sponsorships over the years, and the school added more students over time, so they probably grew it. This story actually made me nauseous. I knew this guy a little and it is pretty sad, if true. It also bears mentioning that Booster clubs can be a shady proposition, since the people who raise the money often have no say in how it is spent, or which businesses get their business when they buy gear or uniforms, etc. A dad like me, whose son played on the baseball team, might raise 100K+ and the baseball team might not get anything out of it, but the wrestling team might take that and buy 10K in singlets with no one on that team doing anything to earn that money. The whole process is wacky. This is terrible news, though, all around.

      • Mike M

        Smells like government. Let’s throw more money at it! 😉

  • Fubu Killa

    The children of the NFL got their childhood stolen and now their lifes have been ruined. Might as well get an education then.

  • Mike M

    Beware of volunteer groups. They will attract their share of bad behavior. It’s a place for people to act out. But they ain’t nothin’ next to church groups. You wanna see visceral animal politics? Check out a church group! THEY are the devil’s workshop!

    • TRS

      Ha ha. Agree!

      • Mike M

        They should check this dude’s other volunteering adventures.

        • Heh

          $60K here, $60k there, sooner or later you’re talking real money!

  • Greg

    Wonder if he will get 137 years in jail….

  • AJ

    Schools and Nonprofits can use Skookii to greatly minimize such fraudulent activity. Auditors usually catch them when its too late. But if all parents can transparently see all digital transactions and all bank balances, that will definitely make thief wannabes think twice.

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