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Published: Wednesday, 2/11/2009

Ex-coach convicted in forgery, theft case

BY ERICA BLAKE
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Hampton Hampton
HANDOUT NOT BLADE PHOTO Enlarge

What Andre Hampton's attorney labeled as "enthusiastic" behavior in raising money for his football team, officials of Cardinal Stritch High School say was a betrayal to the school and its students.

The former head football coach of the Catholic high school pleaded no contest in Lucas County Common Pleas Court yesterday to one count each of falsification in a theft offense and forgery. He faces up to three years in prison when sentenced April 8.

Hampton, 28, of 352 146th St., was found guilty of creating an unauthorized credit union account for the football boosters' club where he then deposited checks from a closed account belonging to his mother. From that account, he spent more than $14,000 on equipment for the team, a dinner for the coaches, and for personal use, attorney Jerry Phillips said.

"Ultimately there was an account where this money was being put and he was buying things that he didn't have money to cover. Then he would write more checks," said the Rev. David Reinhart, the school's presi-dent. "The boys were absolutely devastated. He lied to them and misrepresented what was actually the case."

Hampton was hired in early 2008 as a head coach for the varsity football team at Cardinal Stritch High School in Oregon. During the course of the year, Hampton reorganized the team and created a boosters' club, said Assistant Prosecutor J. Christopher Anderson.

The prosecutor's office said Hampton created an organization without the school's consent or knowledge and opened an account without the school's permission. Additionally, he solicited money and deposited it into an account that only he controlled.

Thousands of dollars came up missing, Mr. Anderson said. At least $5,000 was diverted for personal use, he added.

"He basically created this sham boosters club organization, that only he had control of, behind everybody's back," Mr. Anderson said, adding that the falsification charge was a result of his opening the account under the pretenses that it was money for the boosters' club.

The forgery charge was the result of a check written on July 9 from his mother's closed account, Mr. Anderson said. The $9,000 check was to "try and cover some of the missing funds," Mr. Anderson said.

Hampton, who appeared in court to enter his plea, remains free on 10 percent of a $5,000 bond. He left without commenting.

Attorney Phillips said Hampton set up the account with intentions of using money donated by the boosters for items such as weight equipment and uniforms. But although he bought the equipment, the money did not come in, Mr. Phillips said.

"This is not your typical forgery or theft where the money was for the benefit of the person," Mr. Phillips said after the hearing. "He was attempting to help the kids."

At the time of his sentencing, six additional counts, including two counts of tampering with evidence, one count of forgery, and three counts of theft, will be dismissed.

One of the tampering charges was a result of Hampton submitting a false letter to the school saying that he had no prior record. In 2004, he was sentenced to three years of community control in Hardin County Common Pleas Court for a theft by deception conviction. School policy would have prohibited the hiring of someone with a felony record.

Mr. Phillips said his client has already paid full restitution to the credit union. He added that the school was requesting additional restitution although the amount has not yet been determined.

Father Reinhart said the school has been given a $13,000 bill for football camp that officials believed Hampton had already paid for.

He also accused Hampton of taking checks out of other school mailboxes for the boosters' account, money that the school is ultimately responsible for.

Athletic Director Chris Fahim said school officials will attend Hampton's sentencing before Judge Linda Jennings.

Contact Erica Blake at:

eblake@theblade.com

or 419-213-2134.



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