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Taylor Allderdice hockey mom guilty of stealing money

| Thursday, March 22, 2007

The mother of a player with the Taylor Allderdice Hockey Association has pleaded guilty to five counts of theft for stealing money from several school, athletic and community organizations.

Jean Rigby Zupanek, 47, of Overbrook, was charged in December 2005 with stealing thousands of dollars from the Taylor Allderdice Hockey Association, the Carmalt Academy of Science and Technology Parent-Teacher Organization and the Overbrook Athletic Association. She served as treasurer for all three organizations.

Zupanek later was charged with stealing funds from the Overbrook Community Council, where she was president, and Giant Eagle.

The Overbrook Athletic Association didn't survive the thefts and the Overbrook Community Council was forced into hiatus because of Zupanek's actions, said Carol Anthony, another former community council president.

"The athletic association was broke. Bills were coming in, there was no money and they were forced to disband," said Anthony.

Zupanek, who underwent a liver transplant in 2005, is scheduled to be sentenced May 23 by Allegheny County Common Pleas Judge Gerard Bigley.

Anthony said the community council had about $15,000 in its treasury when Zupanek was elected president six or seven years ago. She said there was about $60 left when Zupanek was arrested.

The Taylor Allderdice group had to raise team fees by several hundred dollars to make up for the missing money, organizers there said.

Zupanek wrote more than a dozen checks to cash and used the money to pay for her son's hockey team fees and to buy Giant Eagle gift cards, police said. She also transferred money from one organization's account to another in an attempt to cover up the thefts, according to a criminal complaint.

"Whenever things looked bad, she would cover her tracks with someone else's money," Anthony said. "It's going to be very difficult to figure out who gets what in restitution."

Defense attorney Thomas Brown said he has been meeting with the organizations "in an attempt to see the best way we can resolved this situation."

"This is a very unfortunate situation for the community, the organizations, the kids who were involved and (Zupanek)," Brown said.

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