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East Ridge band booster president charged with embezzling from club

Denise June McLeod
Denise June McLeod

The former president of the East Ridge High School Band Booster Association is accused of using organization funds for personal use, including paying her family’s cell phone bill.

Denise June McLeod, 50, of 1104 Center St. in Minneola, turned herself in to the Lake County Sheriff’s Office on Friday and was charged with embezzlement and grand theft of between $5,000 and $10,000.

The investigation started in May when a sheriff’s detective met with the director of internal audit for Lake County Schools, the East Ridge High School bookkeeper and other staff who had concerns about the booster club’s financial records and expenditures. The school had received an anonymous tip that association’s money was being spent on non-band related items and that an audit should be done on the 2021-2022 finances, according to the probable cause affidavit.

The detective reviewed the association’s monthly financial statements, which McLeod provided to the school bookkeeper, and compared them to bank records. The detective found at least 44 altered transactions on McLeod’s statements. The total loss found in the financial record analysis was at least $7,482, the affidavit said.

The detective subpoenaed records from Venmo and Sprint Wireless. Venmo records showed McLeod added the Venmo account to the association’s bank account and made several cash out transactions that were completely redacted from her monthly statements. The Sprint records showed the recurring payments against the association’s bank account were paying McLeod’s family wireless plan, according to the affidavit.

The detective spoke with McLeod on July 7 and she admitted to spending the association’s funds and altering the monthly financial statements. She said she was struggling to pay monthly bills and pay her rent on time, the affidavit said.

McLeod is out of the Lake County Jail on $4,000 bond and is scheduled to appear in Lake County Court on Aug. 8.

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