The Birmingham News recently reported that the former University of Alabama cheerleading coach has been indicted on charges that she stole more than $188,000 in university funds just days after she filed a civil lawsuit against the university for gender discrimination.
Birmingham Theft Defense Lawyers have seen many clients charged with crimes of dishonesty and theft who are innocent. Theft can range from lifting cash out of a purse or wallet to in-depth computer crimes or white collar crimes involving fraud or embezzlement. Theft charges in Alabama can carry steep penalties and the more money a person is accused of stealing, the tougher the penalties typically are.
The saga between the university and its former employee relate to money she allegedly stole in her 22-year role as cheerleading coach at the university. According to the news article, she was indicted by a federal grand jury on one count of theft of property and two counts of ethics violations as a public employee for allegedly using her position and public facilities for personal gain.
The article states the charges relate to cheerleading camps the coach ran at Alabama during summers over the last two decades. She was paid a percentage of the income from the camps.
A letter she received when she was fired in February 2009 stated that “based on the information that we have obtained in an ongoing investigation, we are concerned about your conduct and poor judgement in dealing with University property, funds, authority and other important aspects of your job.”
Her civil lawsuit, which names the university and several top administrators, claims violations of the Equal Pay Act and Title IX, the federal law that prohibits gender discrimination in schools. The lawsuit asks for her job back and back and forward pay plus interest.
As mentioned previously, theft is a generic term that can apply to may types of crimes in Alabama. It can be considered a purse snatching or pick-pocketing or it can mean devising a plan to steal funds through computer networks. Theft also can mean burglary or robbery, which can sometimes involve violence or weapons charges.
In this case, it appears the defendant faces federal charges based on her position as a public employee, but she could have faced similar charges in a state trial court. According to the Alabama Code, Chapter 13A-8, theft charges have many definitions, including theft of property, services and goods.
For instance, theft of more than $2,500 in property is considered a Class B felony, which, in Alabama, can carry a prison sentence of 2 to 20 years plus fines and fees of up to $30,000.
There are more severe theft crimes, such as extortion, burglary and robbery and all those can carry more severe penalties. But proving theft can be difficult for law enforcement. Without catching someone in the act, having to analyze bank records, financial transactions and other information can make proving the case tough.
And hiring a diligent Birmingham criminal defense lawyer may be your only shot of avoiding serious prison time if you face these types of charges. Challenging the state’s proof and using past court cases and the law to suppress evidence and statements given to police can work to prove a defendant is innocent of the crimes being accused by the state.
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Ex-Alabama cheerleading coach Debbie Greenwell charged with theft, ethics violations, by Kevin Scarbinsky, Birmingham News