Sheila Stogsdill

Special to the Grove Sun

JAY – A former Grove High School cheerleading coordinator accused of stealing over $8,000 from the school district’s cheerleading fund was charged Monday with embezzlement, court officials said.

Michell Diane Martin, 53, of Grove is charged in Delaware County District Court with a felony count of embezzlement.

Winston Connor II, Martin’s attorney said his client is getting help “for her alcohol issues” and he is making arrangements for her to surrender to authorities this week.

Connor declined to comment on the embezzlement charge saying he hasn’t reviewed all the information related to the charge.

Sandy Harper, school superintendent, declined to comment citing employee confidentiality.

According to the charging document Martin is accused of fraudulently appropriating $8,270 from Jan. 2009 to Oct. 27, 2010. The monies, which were obtained by selling advertising in the school’s football program, was diverted and used by Martin, according to an arrest affidavit.

Martin told authorities there were two cheerleading accounts, the Grove Nationals, which receives funding through the community’s booster club and an account for the varsity cheerleaders, where monies were properly channeled through the school. The Grove Nationals isn’t connected to the school, Martin told authorities.

The missing money was discovered when school officials sent out letters to local businesses requesting they pay outstanding balances for advertisements sold, the affidavit states.

Records reflect $10,480 was collected and processed through the proper channels, but $4,600 was not accounted for.Martin confessed to Grove police she deposited $1,960 from the advertisement sales into a personal bank account earmarked “Grove International Cheerleading.” She returned the money to the school along with banking records for an account called “Grove Cheer Booster” and added “there were additional monies she would need to return to the school,” the affidavit states.

She also told police she used the Grove Nationals/Grove Cheerleaders Booster account as a checking account where she deposited her payroll checks and money from an investment account and where she made her car payments. She did use her personal credit card to pay entry fees for cheer competitions, the affidavit states.

The cancelled checks deposited into the secondary account by Martin and advertising money totaled $2,585. Bank records show when checks were deposited Martin generally received cash back when making the deposits.

Martin resigned from the school on Oct. 26 according to her resignation letter. The hand-written letter does not address the embezzlement charge but rather thanks the school for the people she worked with and her enjoyment being the cheerleading sponsor and the senior class sponsor.

Martin was employed with the school district in 2001 and then from 2005 to this year as a high school English teacher and cheerleading coordinator.

OTHER PROBLEMS

The former teacher was also charged Nov. 1 with driving a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol- aggravated and transporting an open container of beer, both misdemeanors.

She was arrested by Grove police on Oct. 29 after a blood alcohol test showed she was three times over the legal limit.

The legal limit in Oklahoma is .08; Martin’s tests showed a .24 and a second test registered .23.

According to an arrest report Martin was stopped around 10:30 p.m. near the Grove Middle School Campus after failing to stop at a stop sign, according to a police report. Martin admitted to police she had been to the football game. The school’s football stadium is located on the middle school campus.

According to the report when Martin rolled down her window the “strong odor of alcohol” was emitting through the open window.

In addition, the officer had to ask Martin to turn down her radio because it was so loud, the police report states.

Martin denied drinking but an officer noticed a can of beer on the passenger floorboard, the report states. She admitted to police she had one beer as she lost her balance when she exited her car.

After failing two field sobriety tests Martin was arrested and taken to the Grove Police Department.

She posted bail is scheduled to return to court on Jan. 21, court records show.

Martin was also pleaded guilty in March 1992 to a Noble County drunken driving charge where she tested .14 and received a one year deferred sentence.