SALISBURY, NC (WBTV) - The treasurer of the West Rowan Middle School Band Boosters has been charged with embezzling more than $14,000 in cash and purchases from the group.
"You get angry, you hurt, you get mad, you cry a lot, you don't sleep, I mean it's sickening to know that you have 130 parents that are fixing to find out that there is nothing, that they have fund raised from day one," said Amy Mitchell, vice-president of the Bulldog Band Boosters.
Chantel Racquelle Reliford, 32, of Statesville Boulevard, was charged with six counts of embezzlement of funds by public officer/servant. Reliford was jailed and released on $5000 bond.
According to the Rowan Sheriff's Office, other administrators with the booster club began noticing suspicious activity with the group's bank account and credit card. The activity was first noticed in September of last year, according to the report.
The investigation began when it was reported that the booster club could not account for $4000. The only people who had access to the money was the band director and Reliford.
According to the report, Reliford told the club vice president that her wallet was missing in October, but officials said the suspicious activity went back further than October.
The warrants state that in August, 2017, Reliford "did convert to her own use $192 by withdrawing cash as well as failing to make deposits on an account belonging to the West Rowan Band Boosters Association."
In September the total listed on the warrant was $2106.56, in October the total was $2194.19, in November the total listed was $2410.95, in December 2017 the total was listed as $2653, in January, 2018, the total was $309.
Travis Allen with the Rowan Sheriff's Office met with an assistant principal, the band director and the vice president of the booster club over the course of the investigation. They were able to provide Allen with financial records of the group's bank account that showed a number of cash withdrawals that were made with the bank card that was used by Reliford.
According to investigators, Reliford later made admissions to using the band boosters money for her own purchases. The investigation found that the band booster credit card was used at several ATM's for cash withdrawals, including locations in Atlanta, GA, and Fayetteville.
The card was used in restaurants and retail shops, and other places "where the band would not normally use the card."
West Rowan Middle School Principal Derek McCoy provided the following statement to WBTV. It is a Connect-Ed message that was sent to WRMS parents:
At West Rowan Middle School, we appreciate the support of organizations like our Band Boosters.
We recently learned about allegations of criminal conduct by a volunteer associated with the WRMS Band Boosters. While this saddens and concerns us, please know that our district and WRMS administrators are working and will continue to work cooperatively with law enforcement throughout this unfortunate investigation.
I will be holding a meeting for all our band parents on Tuesday afternoon at 5:30 pm in our school cafeteria.
As we move ahead and plan for the future, we look forward to continuing to work with our Boosters in supporting our school's enrichment programs for the growth of our students.
Thank you for your continued support in making West Rowan Middle School the best school to educate and grow our children.
Reliford made her first appearance in court on these charges on Thursday.
Amy Mitchell is hoping that the community will come forward to help the bad raise the money that was needed for a planned competition trip to Williamsburg, Virginia. A GoFundMe page has been set up to help the efforts. You can find it here.
"We have a payment due, it was actually due January 11, which is the day we actually discovered the money was missing. We literally have ten days from today to make a payment of $9000 due," Mitchell said. "The biggest thing from the community, if I can ask for it, is prayers, to get through this and to move forward from this and not dwell on it."