Jacqulynn "Jaci" Baumfalk, former Clarke Community School cheerleading coach, was sentenced to three years of probation Feb. 4 after pleading guilty to the charge of one count of second-degree theft, a class D felony.
Baumfalk plead guilty to the second-degree theft charge Dec. 5 at Clarke County Courthouse.
Court documents from Clarke County Courthouse state, "During the time period of August 2008 through June 2011, (Baumfalk) did take possession of money belonging to others with the intent to deprive its owners thereof, and/or did misappropriate property exceeding $1,000 in value by disposing of money belonging to others in a manner inconsistent with the owner's rights."
On Feb. 17, Osceola Sentinel-Tribune received a letter from Baumfalk's attorney, Brandon Brown of Parrish Kruidenier Dunn Boles Gribble Gentry and Fisher, L.L.P., in Des Moines.
The letter states:
"An audit released by the Iowa State Auditor's Office on February 2, 2012. This audit raised a number of concerns about how Ms. Jaci Baumfalk handled funds during her tenure as the Clarke County Community School District's cheerleading sponsor.
These concerns were reviewed by the Iowa Attorney General's Office, and on Dec. 12, 2012, criminal charges were formally initiated against Ms. Baumfalk accusing her of theft from the school, as well as from the Clarke County Animal Shelter, where Ms. Baumfalk served as the manager.
Ms. Baumfalk proclaimed her innocence and always maintained that she never stole any funds from the school or the shelter. Over the next year, we investigated these allegations, and shortly before trial, were able to work out an agreement with the state. This agreement was premised on the understanding that Ms. Baumfalk would be able to stand by her claim that she never took and kept money from either the school or the animal shelter.
Put another way, Ms. Baumfalk would not compromise her innocence. The state agreed to dismiss the theft charge as it related to the animal shelter and amended the theft charge as it relates to the school in December of 2013, almost one year after the filing of the original charges.
The end result largely differs with the early allegations. The new charge claimed that Ms. Baumfalk used money she received from two parents to purchase incidentals during the trip such as gifts and souvenirs for the cheerleaders and managers while in Florida, rather than use the money to purchase chaperone airline tickets and cover other travel costs. While in court, Ms. Baumfalk stated the following when accepting responsibility for her actions and admitting guilt:
'...between the months of August of 2008 and June of 2011, I received money from one parent of a cheerleader at Clarke Community High School. This money came to me in three installment payments totaling approximately $1,136.00. Rather than have the checks issued to the school, the checks were issued directly to me. Given all of the work I was devoting to planning the trip, I may have received travel money from another parent, although I have no specific recollection. I have no reason to dispute the payment and will acknowledge receipt in this regard. I received these payments and represented to the parents who paid me that these funds would be used to pay for travel expenses, such as their plane tickets for chaperoning the trip. By making this representation to the parents, they believed their money would be used in a specific intended way.
However, after receiving the funds. I applied the money toward incidental expenses during our trip to Florida and made purchases, such as souvenirs. I did not inform the parents that we would be using the money I received in this way. As a result, I understand the school paid for the plane tickets on the school's credit card. I acknowledge that by spending the money on incidentals I disposed of the funds in a way inconsistent with the owners' rights and intentions for the money. When I applied the money for incidentals, rather than consult with the parents who provided me with their money. I thought I had permission from the school administration to do so.
I now understand my actions did not comport school policy and that my actions were wrong and I regret the way I handled the money. I realize now I should have spoken with the parents or received written approval from the school before reallocating the money.'
Ms. Baumfalk stands by her early proclamations that she is innocent of any theft from the animal shelter. On Feb. 4, 2014, Ms. Baumfalk received a suspended sentence for theft by misappropriation. Nearly one year after being charged with theft from the animal shelter and the school district, the animal shelter theft charge was dropped. The school theft charge was amended to reflect a violation that Ms. Baumfalk readily acknowledged from the beginning.
Ms. Baumfalk fully cooperated with the audit investigation and informed the auditor's office that she used money from parents for incidental expenses, such as purchasing souvenirs and gifts while in Florida. Ms. Baumfalk believed she was giving these girls a much needed and deserved reward for the months of hard work and devotion they committed to fundraising and rehearsal.
While working as cheerleading sponsor, it was always Ms. Baumfalk's goal to enrich the lives of the cheerleaders and give them opportunities not conveyed to any other group of girls in the school's history. Ms. Baumfalk wishes the girls the best of luck in their future endeavors."