The former treasurer of the William Monroe High School Athletic Boosters Club pleaded guilty to two misdemeanors on Monday as part of a plea deal with the special prosecutor from Albemarle County.
Karen Wayland McAuliffe, 57, originally faced five felony charges and one misdemeanor charge. The total amount McAuliffe pleaded to taking was more than $18,000. By pleading, McAuliffe gives up a right to appeal the case.
Tyler L. Sande, assistant Albemarle County Commonwealth’s Attorney, kept the misdemeanor of obtaining money under false pretenses and amended one felony count to a misdemeanor. The remaining three felony charges were nolle prosequi by the commonwealth, or thrown out.
The plea deal stipulated no more than two 12-month jail sentences and/or $2,500 fine be handed down by the court with all suspended for good behavior for two years. Greene County Circuit Court Judge Hon. Claude Worrell Jr. sentenced her to one 12-month jail term with all suspended and two years’ probation.
“Karen was treasurer of the boosters club,” Sande said. “During that period it became known to state police through a complaint from her husband, Robert McAuliffe, that there were personal checks written from the booster club into their shared bank account. That precipitated an investigation and also forensic accounting.”
Sande said the investigation found that McAuliffe submitted checks via ATM that were written from the boosters club account into her joint bank account that were not authorized.
McAuliffe waived her Miranda rights during questioning by the Virginia State Police, Sande said.
“She was cooperative,” he said. “I should note, for the record, that this plea agreement is entered in consultation with the William Monroe High School Athletic Boosters Club who were pleased that not only did the defendant take responsibility but she was able to make restitution within six months.”
André A. Hakes, McAuliffe’s attorney, told the judge she had two checks made out to the boosters club for a total of $16,500 with the remaining due by Sept. 9.
“Based on your pleas and evidence presented by the commonwealth the court finds you guilty,” Judge Worrell said. “The court will accept the plea agreement. I will say the primary motivator … is the $16,500 in restitution (now). I think without that factor, the court would not have accepted this plea.”
“All I can say is that two people were charged in connection with this; my client has been assessed the majority of the cost,” Hakes said.
The former president of the boosters club, Douglas Whitmarsh, faces two felony counts of obtaining money by false pretenses. Douglas Whitmarsh is the husband of Greene County Public Schools’ Superintendent Andrea Whitmarsh. In the indictments, investigators allege that he illegally obtained at least $1,000 from the organization between March 2016 and October 2017.
Douglas Whitmarsh is expected to be in circuit court for an arraignment on April 21 at 10:30 a.m.
A special prosecutor for both cases was granted by Judge Worrell on Jan. 14 due to conflicts of interest for Greene County Commonwealth’s Attorney Edwin Consolvo, elected Nov. 5.
According to the William Monroe High School’s athletic handbook, the school’s booster club is designed to provide an additional source of financial support for all student-athletes. It is a volunteer group of parents and community members, governed by its constitution and bylaws. The handbook also states that “all the monies raised go directly back to the programs at WMHS.”
Neither McAuliffe nor Douglas Whitmarsh was still serving on the boosters club board at the time of the indictments last year.