Ex-Springboro boosters treasurer gets jail time

The president of the Springboro Athletic Boosters charged the group’s former treasurer Tuesday with causing a “profound ripple effect” in the community by embezzling $439,455 from the group and leaving it without tax exempt status with the Internal Revenue Service.

Former Treasurer Thomas Harves, 61, of Springboro was sentenced to 90 days in jail - with work release - during a hearing Tuesday in Warren County Common Pleas Court for embezzling from the school booster group he helped run for more than 20 years.

“In a community struggling with far bigger issues, your actions have cast a shadow over the few things that bring a community like ours together - volunteerism and the athletic programs,” Afsoon McClellan, the group’s president, said during the sentencing.

Springboro has been divided by a series of issues, including the embezzlement, debates over bringing religion into the classroom and contract negotiations with teachers.

At the hearing, Harves apologized to his family, friends and the entire community.

“I have ruined the reputation it has taken me a lifetime to build,” Harves said.

Family and friends urged Judge James Flannery for leniency.

In turning over a check for $157,883, Harves completed restitution of all the money a state forensic accountant was able to determine he had embezzled by writing more than 300 checks against the booster account since 2004.

Rather than jail and probation, Warren County Prosecutor David Fornshell urged Flannery to throw Harves in prison and fine him.

“It sends a terrible message to other people in positions of trust,” Fornshell said.

Fornshell emphasized no records could be obtained for earlier years and there was no way to trace cash turned over to Harves from concessions and other fund-raisers.

Harves’ years of service to the boosters left him beyond reproach, officials said.

“He had a stellar reputation. We had no reason to doubt him,” McClellan said after the hearing.

Flannery said non-profit groups need to be on guard or embezzlers like Harves will plunder their treasuries.

“All these organizations need to be vigilant,” Flannery said.

Flannery also noted Harves had made restitution and had no prior criminal record.

Harves - inducted recently into the Springboro Sports Hall of Fame - also was placed on probation for three years and ordered to pay the costs of his prosecution.

Booster officials said they still lack IRS non-profit status and were hampered in supporting the sports programs that brought Springboro together.

“The repercussions of your actions - the actions of a single individual - had a profound ripple effect,” McClellan said.

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