Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Cheer Group's Ex-President Gets Jail for Embezzlement

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Cheer Group's Ex-President Gets Jail for Embezzlement

Article excerpt

Mary Schneir arrived in court Thursday with a personal check, ready to pay back the more than $19,000 she stole from the Bethel Park Junior Cheerleaders organization.

She also brought a letter from her doctor that showed a depression diagnosis and publicly apologized to the organization she embezzled from across two years.

Despite her efforts, Common Pleas Judge Anthony Mariani of Allegheny County sentenced the 42-year-old to 30 days in the county jail, followed by eight months of house arrest and probation, saying she repeatedly lied to those who trusted her.

The end of the legal ordeal was a relief to those representing the cheerleading group in court Thursday. But now it's tasked with paying back parents who donated the money -- and repairing its image in the community.

It's no small feat.

"For many organizations, once you lose your reputation, it's gone. People lose trust in you," said Gary M. Grobman, who wrote a book published last fall titled, "Ethics in Nonprofit Organizations: Theory and Practice."

The investigation into Schneir's actions started after the cheerleading group elected a new board and Schneir left her post as president, Bethel Park Detective Fred Paganico said when the charges were filed.

"She was in control of everything, so no one really questioned her when she did the bank statements," he said.

"And if it's someone you trust, it's easy to think, 'Well they would never do that,' " said Nicholas P. Cafardi, a professor at the Duquesne University School of Law who has written about the law of nonprofit, tax-exempt organizations.

Schneir initially "made excuses" when asked by other board members for the organization's bank statements, police wrote in a criminal complaint. Members noticed a string of strange cash withdrawals and thousands of dollars in credit card payments and notified police.

Schneir told investigators at the time that she was addicted to shopping and used the money on diet pills, luggage and remodeling her home.

Cases like this one seem random, but they happen often enough, Mr. Cafardi said.

"It seems to me we read a lot of stories like that," he said. …

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