Updated Tue, Jun 17, 2014 2:35 pm
The former cheerleading coach of Trimble Local Schools and the youth organization known as Wee Cats has pleaded guilty to an allegation of theft.
Christa Shutts, 30, of Jacksonville, appeared in Athens County Common Pleas Court on Monday and pleaded guilty to a bill of information charging a fifth-degree felony of theft. Shutts is accused of using funds raised by the Wee Cats for personal expenditures.
According to a news release, Shutts will enter the Athens County Prosecutor's Diversion Program and be required to complete 100 hours of community service. She is also ordered to pay restitution to the Wee Cats in the amount of $4,000.
"Shutts was granted an opportunity at diversion due to her lack of prior record and her agreement to pay restitution at the dollar amount (detectives) deemed to be missing, $4,000," said Athens County Prosecutor Keller Blackburn in a news release. Blackburn told The Messenger Tuesday that Shutts agreed to pay for all of the expenses investigators deemed questionable.
Blackburn and the Trimble Twp. Youth League have established an account under the 501(c)(3) umbrella (non-profit) to use for the Wee Cats fund going forward. Blackburn explained that previously the organization was not operating as a non-profit.
"A primary reason TTYL was contacted was that Shutts used the (league's) 501(c)(3) status during fund raising and expenditures even though the Wee Cats are not affiliated with the TTYL," Blackburn continued.
Shutts resigned as varsity coach of the Trimble High School cheerleading team in March. Documents obtained by The Messenger show an investigation into an alleged inappropriate relationship between a cheerleader and a close associate of Shutts'. Shutts did not, however, state a reason for the resignation and it is not known whether the investigation and/or the theft from the Wee Cats played a role in that decision. No charges were filed against the associate.
Shutts' guilty plea to the bill of information on Monday may also mean the end of her employment at the Trimble Twp. Wastewater District.
She was suspended from her position as secretary/treasurer for the District after the theft charges were filed against her. No allegations of theft from the water district have been made but the District's attorney, Frank Lavelle said Tuesday that Shutt's plea complicates the matter of bonding as a treasurer and will likely cause her to not be eligible to hold the position.
Should she complete the diversion program and the agreement's requirements, Shutts will not have the felony charge on her record. If she does not comply and/or is charged with another crime, she could face up to a year in prison on the theft conviction.