Former president of Derry football boosters charged with stealing $27,000
The former president of the Derry Area Football Boosters Club was arraigned this week on charges of stealing $27,711 from the organization over three seasons.
The thefts from the football team boosters were occurring at the same time as another woman allegedly stole nearly $12,000 from the cheerleaders boosters club, police said.
In the football boosters case, Lori M. Nicely, 49, of Wood Street, Derry Township, was arraigned Monday on charges filed by state police in Greensburg of theft, receiving stolen property and theft by failure to make required disposition of funds.
“She was not reporting the entire amounts of contributions collected by kids and/or their parents when they sold tickets and held various fundraising activities. Instead, she would place a portion in her personal account,” state police spokesman Trooper Steve Limani said.
“It turned into a lot of money,” he said.
The thefts occurred during the 2009, 2010 and 2011 seasons, between Jan. 1, 2009, and Dec. 20, 2011, according to the affidavit of probable cause filed by Trooper Robert Bigelow.
“The treasurer of the organization became suspicious and saw some things were not adding up and went to the board. After (Nicely) was questioned about it, she gave about $8,200 cash in a brown paper bag to the head football coach (Al Gaiardo),” Limani said.
Nicely was then fired by the boosters' board, Limani said.
The case was turned over to state police for investigation in 2013, according to the affidavit.
“On Feb. 8, I interviewed (Nicely), who admitted she returned $8,000 cash to (Gaiardo), which she had personally used out of the profits gained by the Derry Area Boosters Club,” Bigelow said.
Current high school football boosters President Jodie Edmiston said the theft has hurt the program.
“It's a shame, but the boys are the ones that suffer in the end. In the past, when they went to summer training camp at Shippensburg (University of Pennsylvania), the boosters would foot the bill,” Edmiston said. “This year, each boy had to raise $250 per child individually in order to attend.
“We're a really small organization, so it's really impacted us,” she added.
She said the team uniforms need to be replaced, but the club doesn't have the money.
Edmiston noted that she recently took over the office, and the thefts were uncovered by a prior board.
“We've made a number of changes in our accounting procedures. There is no longer just one person in charge of collecting and counting the fundraising money,” Edmiston said.
“We have three business owners on the board now, and we run it like our own businesses. There is a check-and-balance system in place, and there is a paper trail on every ticket sold,” she said.
Edmiston said she is worried that the public may punish children for the actions of one adult.
“It's really a shame. This was a one-person thing,” she said. “And our organization was proactive right away as soon as it was discovered what was gong on after things didn't look right.
“I want to emphasize that we have a check-and-balance system in place ... if I'm counting something, someone else is there counting with me ... right on down the line, and there is a complete paper trail. And the deposits have to match up with the receipts,” she said.
Nicely did not respond to messages seeking comment.
In a separate case, Jennilyn Dellovechio, 47, of Park Street, Derry, treasurer of the cheerleaders organization, was charged with stealing $11,800.
In a plea bargain deal reached in Common Pleas court in 2011, she was admitted to the Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition Program for first-time offenders. Under the program, the defendant does not admit guilt.
Dellovechio paid all court fines, reimbursed the organization and completed the ARD program requirements by Nov. 14, according to online court records.
The theft prompted the cheerleaders organization to change accounting procedures, according to news reports.
Nicely's hearing is tentatively scheduled June 26 before Derry District Judge Mark Bilik. She was released on a signature bond.
Paul Peirce is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-850-2860 or firstname.lastname@example.org.