Longtime booster will appear in court June 12

by: COURTESY PHOTO: WASHINGTON COUNTY SHERIFFS OFFICE - A surveillance video allegedly shows Banks parent and longtime volunteer Cindy Schorn pocketing money she collected in entry fees in the hallway outside the Banks High School gym earlier this year. Banks High School Athletic Director Jacob Pence was struggling to focus on a softball playoff game Friday afternoon against Mazama, which the Braves eventually won.

There was something pressing on Pence’s mind that day: the arrest two weeks earlier of longtime volunteer Cindy Schorn for allegedly stealing funds from the sports program she had boosted since 2006.

“Surprise” and “shock” were the words Pence — who came to the Banks School District in 2003 — used to describe his reaction to the result of a nearly four-month investigation into Schorn’s money-handling activities by the Washington County Sheriff’s Office (WSCO).

A surveillance videotape reviewed by school administrators and later by WSCO officials allegedly shows Schorn, 53, taking entry fees collected from school basketball fans.

Sgt. Dave Thompson of the sheriff’s office said Friday evening he does not know the specific amount of money district officials think Schorn might have stolen.

Banks Superintendent Bob Huston couldn’t pinpoint the dollar amount of the theft, either. “This is simply a sad situation,” he said. “We have a marvelous group of reliable and trustworthy volunteers who do wonderful things for the district, and that is our focus — not this single isolated event of indiscretion by one volunteer.”

Schorn was the 2012-13 Parent Club president. She has one child who is a standout senior athlete at BHS and another who is a freshman.

Schorn also has served as a softball team statistician and concession stand co-chair and provided other support for Banks sports programs, including setting up for banquets, according to Pence.

And she has been instrumental in ensuring the success of the Banks Community Auction — an annual staple that has raised tens of thousands of dollars for student scholarships.

“Cindy has done a ton for our school and for our community over the years,” said Pence, who is also the high school’s assistant principal. “We’re a small outfit out here in Banks. We’re just sad about the situation.”

On Jan. 22, Banks High administrators called the sheriff’s office to report a possible theft that occurred on school property, according to Sgt. Bob Ray. “Deputies learned that administrators were viewing surveillance video for an unrelated matter when they saw what appeared to be Cindy Schorn, 53, from Banks, stealing money,” Ray said.

Schorn has been a volunteer with the school district for eight years “and one of her responsibilities was to collect the money for entry to basketball games,” added Ray. “She would sit at a table in the hallway with a cash box while accepting the entry fees.

“It appeared that while Ms. Schorn was selling tickets to a basketball game, she took money out of the cash box and then placed the money into her pants pocket,” Ray said. “This was observed on video on two occasions at two different basketball games by the administration.”

School district officials “fully cooperated” with the investigation, Ray noted. The Washington County Property Crimes Detectives assisted with the case. “Sheriff’s detectives used enhanced surveillance capabilities, and on a third occasion, observed Schorn take money out of the cash box and place the money in her pocket,” he said.

Schorn was issued a criminal citation of arrest May 13 for three counts of Third Degree Theft but was not taken into custody, Thompson said, because the alleged crimes are misdemeanors and because a records check showed Schorn had never failed to appear in court before.

“A criminal citation still means a person is arrested,” he said. “This just helps us keep the jail as free of crowding as possible.”

Schorn is scheduled to appear in Washington County Circuit Court on Thursday, June 12, at 8:30 a.m.

Meanwhile, Pence said Schorn’s arrest and the resulting ripples through the Banks community are “tough to handle” as the school year comes to a close.

“My heart goes out to everyone affected by this,” he said. “Everybody makes mistakes, and people are very forgiving around here.”

Pence said the Schorn case has prompted school officials to review their policies on volunteers tasked with handling money. He also emphasized that recent revelations should not reflect poorly on the quality of Banks volunteers in general.

“We have dozens of volunteers, and I don’t think this is an example at all of the quality of our volunteers,” Pence said. “I hope we can just move forward. There’s no good time for this kind of news.”

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