LEBANON, Ohio (WDTN)- A long time Springboro high school sports booster was sentenced July 9, after pleading guilty to aggravated theft.
Thomas Harves, 61, will serve 90 days in the Warren County Jail. The prosecutor had asked the judge to sentence him to three years in prison.
Harves cashed more than 300 unauthorized checks, totaling $439,455, from the Springboro Athletics Boosters account while he served as the boosters' treasurer during his time with the group.
Prosecutors said Harves used some of the money to make house payments and to cover other expenses.
Current boosters say they would've liked to have seen a harsher sentence.
"My preference would have been that he did a little bit more hard time," says Afsoon McClellan, President of the Springboro Athletic Boosters.
Harves has since repaid the amount he stole.
In court he apologized for the thefts, saying he had already started returning the money when he was first questioned last June.
"What I did was wrong in so many ways," Harves told the court. "If I could make it right today I would do that."
Even Harves admits he was surprised to find out how much he took.
Prosecutors believe the amount was even higher, but didn't have the records to prove it.
"Our office could not go back further than eight years," says Warren County Prosecutor David Fornshell. "I don't believe for a minute starting January 1, 2004 that Mr. Harves decided in that year alone he was going to write 54 checks for $50,000."
McClellan says even with the money back, the group is still feeling the impact of the theft.
It lost its charity status because McClellan says in an effort to cover up the thefts, Harves didn't file the group's taxes.
The boosters are working to get that status back, but regaining the community's trust will be a much more difficult process.
"In a community struggling with far bigger issues, your actions cast a shadow over the few things that bring a community like ours together," McClellan told Harves in court.
Since the theft, the booster club has changed its policies and now has more than one person handle its finances.
That's something those who often deal with these cases say would be wise for other groups to do.
"It could prevent a lot of this if you have two people checking each other when you're dealing with cash or an organization's money," says Harves' attorney Charlie Rittgers.
Fornshell has held seminars for organizations on how to handle their finances.
He expects to hold another sometime this fall.