Sentencing delayed in White Knoll High sports money embezzlement case

jmonk@thestate.comSeptember 30, 2013 

— Circuit Judge Robert Hood on Monday delayed sentencing of former White Knoll High School athletic director Bryan Butz who in late August pleaded guilty to embezzling money that was supposed to have gone to help equip the school’s sports teams.

According to a warrant in the case, Butz embezzled more than $135,000 from June 2006 to September 2010, when he was arrested. Much of the money he stole came from the school’s Booster Club and was put in what school officials have called a “rogue” checking account in a Lexington bank. Butz then used a debit card to withdraw the money, investigators said.

Butz was supposed to have been sentenced Aug. 28, the date he pleaded guilty. But sentencing was delayed while the 11th Circuit Solicitor’s office and Butz’s attorney, Theo Williams, discussed options for Butz to make restitution.

The outcome of those discussions could have a bearing on how long a prison term Butz serves, or if he goes to prison. He could receive a maximum of 10 years.

However, discussions between prosecutor Robert Elam and the defense are still continuing, with Butz saying he did not take anywhere near $135,000, according to lawyers in the case.

Butz will meet in the near future with Lexington 1 chief financial officer John Butler to go over the financial aspects of the charges against him.

Butz declined comment Monday. More than a dozen of his supporters were on hand to speak on his behalf in the small courtroom at the Lexington County Judicial Center. Only a handful of school officials showed up.

A big unknown in the case is what Butz did with the money he has pleaded guilty to stealing. As athletic director, Butz made $80,000 a year and was one of the school’s most visible officials, attending sports events, mixing with students, players and coaches. He scheduled games and paid referees.

Butz’s 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.

At that time, Butz overdrew an account he had diverted money to, causing an overdraft that led bank officials to contact school leaders about the situation. Elam said at the August plea hearing.

Butz came to the school in 2002 as an athletic trainer before his promotion to athletic director.

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

Reach Monk at (803) 771-8344.

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