A member of the Wilson & Young Medal of Honor Middle School boys’ athletic booster club was arrested recently on a charge of theft, a state jail felony.
Heather Aranda, 326 McKnight Drive, in Odessa, was taken to the Ector County Detention Center and released on Feb. 21 on a $5,000 bond. Ector County Independent School District Police Department’s Lt. Scott Mckown said the U.S. Marshals Service arrested Aranda. He said the ECISD police got an arrest warrant for her, but were having trouble locating her, so their investigator reached out to the Marshals Service and they made the arrest.
The range of the charge is greater than $2,500 and less than $30,000, police said. Chief of Staff Brian Moersch said $4,300 was missing from the fund and the theft allegedly ranged from October 2016 through August 2017. The new treasurer of the booster club found the discrepancy when she was balancing the books and reported it to the ECISD police, he said.
The district’s internal auditor audited the club’s records and determined approximately the amount of money that was missing, Moersch said.
McKown said the problem with booster clubs is the turnover rate of the people involved in them and there are dozens of clubs districtwide. McKown added that the police can suggest guidelines and procedures to follow, but “there’s really no teeth in it because they’re not associated with the school district.”
Chief Todd Hiner said the booster club members are parents. They should have safeguards like a full board and officers. “That way there are checks and balances,” Hiner said.
He added that the best thing for people involved in booster clubs is to make sure there is accountability at all levels.
“The best thing is to ensure there are multiple layers. The system itself is supposed to be your checks and balances,” Hiner added.