Former White Knoll High athletics director pleads guilty to embezzlement

tflach@thestate.comAugust 28, 2013 


Former White Knoll High School athletics director Bryan Butz awaits sentencing after pleading guilty Wednesday to embezzling money raised to help equip sports teams.

His sentencing was delayed until Sept. 30 after assistant 11th Circuit Solicitor Robert Elam said discussions are continuing on repayment.

“We have some issues regarding restitution,” Elam said.

The plea came nearly three years after Butz was charged with embezzling more than $135,000 in public money.

Butz acknowledged taking more than $10,000 in public money, without specifying how much, after Elam said there is a dispute on the amount.

Circuit Judge Robert Hood deferred sentencing after accepting the plea at a hearing in the Lexington County Judicial Center.

Butz said little other than to tell the judge he is on medication for depression.

He took checks from the school athletic booster club and deposited them in a private checking account from June 2006 until September 2010, Elam said.

How Butz used the money taken remains unclear, since that disclosure was put off until sentencing.

Butz handled the club money as athletic director to buy things such as uniforms for school teams with the funds.

An account was created by his predecessor in 2004 to allow purchases quickly without bids, Elam said.

“It turned into a method of theft” when Butz took over, Elam said.

Creation of that account was in violation of Lexington 1 standards, school spokeswoman Mary Beth Hill said.

The embezzlement came to light when Lexington 1 officials noticed a deficit in money raised by boosters, forcing Butz to restore some of the money taken, Elam continued.

That shift caused an overwithdrawal that led bank officials to contact school leaders about the situation, he said.

Lexington 1 leaders regularly outline to sports coaches what’s allowed and what isn’t, Hill said.

“Sadly, if someone wants to be dishonest and work outside the system, he or she will find a way to circumvent existing policies and safeguards,” she said.

Butz came to the school in 2002 as an athletics trainer before his promotion to athletics director, a post paying him $80,000 a year when he was dismissed after the embezzlement charge. He is now working at a chicken-processing plant, he told Hood.

White Knoll is the largest of five high schools in Lexington 1 with nearly 2,000 students.

Reach Flach at (803) 771-8483.

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