The Sheriff’s Office in Lexington says the treasurer of the Oglethorpe County Athletic Booster Club is facing theft charges: Tiffany Gomes is accused of embezzling more than $127,000 between February of 2017 and October of 2019. Gomes surrendered to the Oglethorpe County Sheriff’s Office Monday and was released on bond. The GBI is in on the ongoing investigation.
From the Oglethorpe County Sheriff’s Office…
The Oglethorpe County Athletic Booster Club President contacted the Sheriff's Office in reference to some concerns over activity in their bank account. After an investigation a finding of facts and the time line of events were as follows:
On October 17, 2019 the Bank that keeps the accounts for the Athletic Booster Club contacted the president in reference to an email they received that was purported to be from her. She went to the bank and found an email asking the bank to pay off a loan taken out by one of the officers. The president had no knowledge of this loan and did not authorize payment of it. She looked at the bank statement and found there was only $71. According to their most recent financial statement rendered at their last meeting there should have been over $50,000.
The president pulled paper bank statements going back a number of years and met with the Athletic Booster Board Members to go through the statements. They found hundreds of unauthorized payments to credit cards, bank loans, car payments spa days and many others that were made by the current treasurer of the club Tiffany Gomes. The preliminary total of missing funds from the Athletic Boosters account was around $127,795.26 from February 1, 2017 to October 16, 2019.
The Athletic Booster Board members met with the Sheriff on October 22 to report what they have discovered. The Sheriff contacted the GBI to assist with the investigation due to the sheer volume of transactions involved.
On October 24 the GBI met with Tiffany Gomes about the financial transactions and her appropriating money from the Athletic Booster account for her own use. To her credit she owned up to all of it.
Some additional investigation was done and a warrant was signed for Theft by Taking on October 30, 2019. Tiffany Gomes turned herself in today, November 4th and is currently out on bond.
The case is still being investigated and additional charges will be made when this goes to court.
There are a number of people who are victims in this incident. Tiffany's ex-husband and children did not know this was going on at all. The Athletic Booster Board and members have been betrayed and the money they worked hard to raise was pilfered for personal gain of an individual who had no right to it. The Athletic Board has conferred with the Sheriff's Office in ways to put in checks and balances as well as oversights to prevent this from ever occurring again.
But ultimately the biggest victims in all of this is the children of Oglethorpe County who needs those funds to pay for uniforms, equipment, upgrades to the athletic fields and pay for travel for those kids who have earned the privilege to represent our community in competitions.
Justice will eventually be served in this incident and Tiffany Gomes will have her day in court. However in the short run hopefully the community can come together to help pay for the items needed by the children of our community.