Former Coatesville Area School superintendent Richard Como, shown leaving district court Monday, Dec. 15, 2014, was charged with felony theft charges following a grand jury investigation.
DAILY LOCAL NEWS 21st Century Media News Service
CALN >> A symbol of Coatesville Area Senior High School Red Raiders football teams success is now a constant reminder of former Superintendent Richard Comos supposed criminal pet project, according to a grand jury that sought charges against Como for 50 counts of felony theft.
Criminal charges against Como
, as well as former high school Director of Athletics and Activities Jim Donato, revealed how 87 championship football rings and three pendants worth more than $33,000 were inappropriately purchased.
According to the grand jury report, Como
is accused of illegally (diverting) school funds for the purchase of football rings and pendants, bypassing the Pennsylvania School Code and school district policy to hide the purchase, stealing $11,000 from the district, and attempting to take $15,000 from the high school directors budget to cover the cost.
According to the report, Como approached Tricia Dohmsohn, a 12th grade English teacher and co-moderator of Student Council at the high school senior center.
The money generated from the sale was immediately turned over to Como
The fundraiser, called the Beast of East Fundraiser, sold shirts at various schools, in the high schools store and to members of the community for $12 per shirt.
The shirts said Beast of East or Pride of the East and cost $5 per shirt to make.
brought $4,137 to the business office for deposit into the Red Raiders Spirit Day Account.
The more than $4,000 in cash was deposited on three separate occasions in December and a single $12 was made in January.
A $4,137 check was written to Jostens on April 17, 2013 and temporarily left the Red Raiders Spirit Day Account empty, the report says.
had no authority to take money from the students and deposit it into an account which funded the purchase of the rings, the report says.
The check written in 2013 did not specify the donation was for the football team, yet Como
deposited the check into the fund for the ring purchase, according to the report.
In June 2013, Como
was said to initiate an $8,000 transfer from the Student Council account and skimmed $2,050 in cash from Summer School deposits.
About $1,100 from the Summer School deposits came from a $50 per student fee for a free program, Camp Academia
, funded by Cheyney University
collected $1,100 from the fabricated tuition.
A second payment was made to Jostens in at the end of June for $6,931, increasing the total paid to Jostens to $11,069.
The school district still owes $8,865.
The grand jury also said Como
requested a $15,000 transfer from the high school directors budget to fund the rings.
By the time previous deposits were made, the transfer was no longer needed.
However, the $15,000 was deposited into the slush fund, but redirected back to the high school directors budget in February 2014.
The price of the rings was another topic for discussion.
managed to reduce the price of the rings by cutting a deal with Jostens.
An invoice obtained by the Daily Local News
, dated Oct. 22, 2013, showed the original purchase price was about $33,000 - $350 per ring and $305 per pendant.
reduced the overall cost for the rings and pendants from $33,277 to $19,935 ($225 per ring and $195 per pendant) by giving Jostens a five-year service agreement with the school district to provide students with caps, gowns, diplomas and graduation stationary.
Entering into the agreement with Jostens reduced the price of the rings, but cancelled a similar agreement signed that year with Student Services.
According to the grand jury report, Como
entered into the agreement at the expense not only of a long standing business relationship with (Student Services), but potentially at the expense of every graduating senior for the next five years.
The grand jury didnt fault the football players, the booster club members, and the coaching staff for the suspected illegal spending initiated by Como
The rings were not demanded by the team.
It was Richard Como
who not only promised the players rings, but also promised them the biggest rings he
could find, telling the players I dont care what people say, youre going to get a ring, the report says.
Junior varsity and varsity football players who received rings, along with parents, were told the purchase was funded by a donation from a wealthy benefactor.
Many didnt ask additional questions about how the rings were purchased, or even why a team who placed second to North Allegheny in the Class AAAA Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association
The ring purchases remained under the radar until the racially and sexually offensive text message exchange between Como and former high school Director of Athletics and Activities Jim Donato shined some light on the football program, including potential misuse of funds.
The grand jury report reveals how Como
was able to shift school district funds and promise the company making the rings a contract to cover the overall cost.
was the driving force behind getting those rings, Hogan said during a press conference last week.
It was well known Como
favored the athletic department, especially the football team.
He started working for Coatesville Area School District in 1986 as an adaptive physical education teacher, alternative education teacher, attendance officer and a head coach.
He was there for more than a year before heading to Upper Merion High School to serve as the athletic director.
He returned to Coatesville as the assistant high school principal in 1988 and became principal in 1995.
He then sat as superintendent from 2005 to 2013.
While he served as superintendent, tens of thousands of dollars were squandered on football rings as a way to promote his athletics-above-all-else agenda, the report says.
The grand jury recounted Como
illegally begged, borrowed and stole to pay for these rings by taking money from the Student Council
, misusing donations, creating program fees, and engaged in patently illegal quid pro quo arrangements, all to pay for his
criminal pet project.