SPRINGBORO, Ohio (FOX19) - A Warren County woman accused of stealing $175,000 from a youth baseball team and using part of it for a Disney vacation was sentenced Tuesday morning.
Renee K. Nichols, 46, admitted to the crime and accepted a plea deal in August.
Nichols was indicted last October for embezzling funds from the Springboro Clearcreek Baseball Association (SCBA).
The prosecutor’s office says from July 2013 through July 2017, Nichols stole at least $180,000 from SCBA’s bank account and used it for personal purchases.
Nichols spent that money on a trip to Disney and credit card bills, among other things, the indictment said.
A new board member, who is a former CPA with experience in fraud investigations, uncovered the scheme in 2017 officials say.
While looking through the organization’s finances, the new member found that Nichols didn’t file SCBA’s Form 990 with the IRS threatening its tax-exempt status.
Nichols doctored bank records to hide the nature of her purchases, officials say.
Investigators believe Nichols also destroyed and disposed of the laptop containing SCBA’s historical financial information.
Board members and Springboro police found about 1,000 improper expenditures throughout the investigation.
Tuesday, a Warren County judge placed Nichols on community control and ordered her to return to court in 60 days. She was also ordered to pay back $175,000 to the league.
The judge told her if she violated her agreement, he would send her to prison for 36 months, not including time already served.
Nichols has already served 186 days in jail for her crime, but prosecutors argued Tuesday she didn’t struggle to make ends meet and that she used the stolen money to buy luxury items, expensive meals, and trips to Disney. They asked the judge sentence her to prison instead of jail.
The baseball league asked the judge to look at Nichols’ previous behavior, saying they worry that she doesn’t have the means to pay back the money she took.
They say they’re trying to get back on track after all the money Nichols stole.
Her next court date has not been set.