It’s not cheap to sign your teen up for hockey. On Wednesday parents learned $223,000 of the fees they paid did not go into their children’s hockey program, but instead into their hockey league treasurer’s pocket, according to Fort Bend County Sheriff Troy Nehls.
Nehls announced the arrest of Interscholastic Hockey League treasurer Michelle Bernier, charged with felony embezzlement.
“It’s just a sad situation that we’re talking about kids and things taken away from kids,” said Lisa Flanagan, pro shop manager at Sugar Land Ice & Sports Center.
Lisa coached Michelle Bernier’s son who was a goalie at Sugar Land Ice. She’s one of many not happy to hear Bernier has been embezzling cash from the youth hockey program over the past five years.
“We’re trying to promote the sport, and this kind of stuff hurts,” said Flanagan.
Nehls says Bernier has made about 130 cash withdrawals from the youth hockey league’s bank account since being hired in 2013.
“The president of the league did a little research and looked into the bank account and discovered some discrepancies, so then an investigation was conducted,” said Nehls.
The Interscholastic Hockey League serves 15 to 20 teams of teens age 13-18 on the north and south sides of Houston, said Flanagan.
“There are parents that are out there working each and every day to keep their kids involved in the extracurricular activities,” said Nehls. “For someone to steal that money, I don’t know how much sympathy this individual is gonna get from the parents.”
After being called out by the league’s president, Bernier admitted to the theft and tried to settle it by paying $45,000 in restitution, said Nehls. The league rejected that offer and felony charges were filed.
Nehls says Bernier, who is from Canada, is now facing the potential for many many years in prison here in the states.