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Former coach gets probation for stealing from football program
POPLAR BLUFF, Mo. -- The former head coach of the Poplar Bluff Mules football team was placed on probation Tuesday after pleading guilty in connection with stealing from funds raised for the team.
Michael "Shane" Kearbey, 39, pleaded guilty to felony stealing before Presiding Circuit Judge Michael Pritchett, according to Butler County assistant prosecuting attorney Paul Oesterreicher.
After accepting Kearbey's plea, Oesterreicher said, Pritchett suspended the imposition of Kearbey's sentence and placed him on five years' supervised probation.
Pritchett ordered Kearbey to pay restitution of $20,000 to the school district, said Oesterreicher, who described Kearbey's plea as a "negotiated plea" in which school officials were "OK with it." The restitution is to be paid at a minimum of $250 per month, beginning Dec. 1.
Kearbey had been accused of stealing nearly $1,200 from a fundraising account, but "we figured [restitution to include] not just the charged incident," said Butler County Prosecuting Attorney Kevin Barbour. "[School officials] estimated what was lost over a period of time. "There was more than one incident. They figured it up from prior, after they got to looking and found questionable amounts [had been missing] for quite some time."
According to testimony presented at Kearbey's earlier preliminary hearing, witnesses said the former coach was accused of cashing checks totaling more than $3,000 and made payable to Poplar Bluff football or Poplar Bluff High School football in October 2010.
Additional checks totaling more than $500 also were reported to have been deposited in Kearbey's bank account in August 2010. Discrepancies also were found in money collected for "meal cards." The program bought the cards, which were redeemable at local restaurants, at a cost of $5 each. Mules football players then sold the cards for $15 each and the profits were deposited in the program's reimbursable account.
School officials testified that $8,300 was turned in for the cards, but a representative for the company printing the cards said $8,700 was owed. Based on the number of cards sold, about $23,000 reportedly should have been turned in. That amount reportedly would have included what was owed to the company generating the cards.
Poplar Bluff, Mo.