Former Poplar Bluff coach pleads guilty to stealing from team - KAIT Jonesboro, AR - Region 8 News, weather, sports

Former Poplar Bluff coach pleads guilty to stealing from team

Shane Kearbey (Source: Butler County Sheriff's Office) Shane Kearbey (Source: Butler County Sheriff's Office)

The former Poplar Bluff High School football coach has been placed on probation after admitting he stole funds raised by the team.

Michael "Shane" Kearbey, 39, pleaded guilty to felony stealing charges on Tuesday.

Kearbey was placed on probation for five years and ordered to pay $20,000 in restitution to the school district.

Authorities said discrepancies were found in money collected by players for "meal cards."

The football program purchased the cards, redeemable at restaurants, at a cost of $5 each, and players sold them for $15 each as a fundraiser.

School officials said $8,300 was turned in, but based on the number sold, the figure should have been $23,000.

Kearbey was placed on paid administrative leave in late October 2010 following an altercation with a male student at the school.

Kearbey has been with the district since 1998.

Rod Priest, Poplar Bluff assistant superintendent of finance, released the following statement:

In October of 2010, a fundraising event for the Poplar Bluff Mules football team needed to be investigated. I became apparent of an issue when the school district received an invoice from NFP Sports of Glenco for selling fundraising cards. The district conducted an internal audit for the football fundraiser for both years 2009 and 2010, and discovered that based on the number of cards sold, the deposits obviously did not add up.

It has taken two years in the court system but our district is satisfied with the outcome and the restitution agreement for the funds taken from the students on the football team.

We deeply value the community support for our students and do not want the community to lose trust in our fiscal responsibility of these programs. Thus, we want to make it clear that we are not going to look the other way when one of our employees is suspected of wrongdoing. We take our obligation of being good stewards of people's investments as well as our transparency with the public extremely seriously.

Since this incident, the board of education has approved stricter policies to discourage another such incident from happening in the future. New approval and accountability procedures are in place to account for funds collected by students that support their sports, clubs and programs.

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