Former area football coach accused of stealing fundraiser money

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

POPLAR BLUFF, Mo. -- The former head coach of the Poplar Bluff Mules football team was charged Friday with stealing nearly $1,200 from a fundraising account.

Michael "Shane" Kearbey, 38, was charged with felony stealing by Butler County Prosecuting Attorney Kevin Barbour.

Since Kearbey already has retained an attorney, he was issued a criminal summons to appear in court on June 16 before Associate Circuit Judge John Bloodworth for arraignment.

The complaint on file with the court alleges between Aug. 19 and Oct. 18, Kearbey stole more than $500 in checks and cash from the Poplar Bluff Mules football program.

The charge against Kearbey stems from an investigation by the Poplar Bluff Police Department.

On Nov. 22, police Capt. Mike Elliott and Det. Corey Mitchell met with Poplar Bluff Superintendent Chris Hon and Associate Superintendent Rod Priest, who reported a "large discrepancy in the Football Activity Account that includes deposits derived from the football fundraiser," according to Det. Leigh Morgan's probable cause statement filed with the court.

The account, which was under Kearbey's responsibility, didn't show any cash deposits, only checks, Morgan said.

"During the course of the investigation, Detective Mitchell and I discovered nine checks from various individuals written to Shane Kearbey for the fundraiser," Morgan said.

Totaling $330, the checks, she said, were endorsed by Kearbey and deposited in his personal account on Aug. 19.

On Oct. 12, four third-party checks, written to Poplar Bluff Mules football, were "endorsed by Shane Kearbey and cashed," Morgan said. "An additional third-party check, written to Mules Football, was endorsed and cashed on Oct. 18, 2010, at his personal bank."

Those checks, Morgan said, totaled $850.

A review of financial records, Morgan said, did not show any withdrawals from Kearbey's personal account after the nine checks were deposited.

The five third-party checks allegedly cashed by Kearbey were not turned into the athletic director's secretary, Cassie Isom, Morgan said.

"Isom stated she has never received any cash from Kearbey, only checks, which she deposited into the football account," Morgan said.

During the 2010 school year, prior to the end of the fundraiser, Athletic Director Jim Brown reported seeing money and checks in a lock box in Kearbey's desk drawer, which were collections from the fundraiser, Morgan said.

"Brown advised Kearbey at that time to bring the money to the office for deposit and not to leave it in his desk," Morgan said.

According to Priest, no employee has the "authorization to endorse checks, deposit or cash checks written to the school."

Kearbey resigned as head football coach Nov. 1. His resignation stemmed from an incident at school involving a student for which the school placed him on administrative leave two days before the final football game of the season.

Kearbey graduated from Poplar Bluff in 1991 after playing quarterback for the Mules' playoff team that finished the regular season 10-0 as a senior. He was hired in March 2008 as head football coach and previously had served as an assistant coach and defensive coordinator.

Pertinent address:

Poplar Bluff, MO

Map of pertinent addresses

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