Ex-Sparta Sports Boosters treasurer sentenced for embezzlement

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — A woman accused of stealing $75,000 from the Sparta Sports Boosters will not serve jail time.

Helen Yates was sentenced Wednesday to two years of probation under the terms of a plea agreement. She must repay the money she took; once she does that, the probation board may release her early.

Authorities say between 2016 and 2018, when Yates was treasurer for the boosters, she wrote checks to herself and withdrew cash without documentation. At sentencing, the judge explained that the booster club used a two-signature system for checks but that Yates was able to write the improper checks because the second person signed an entire book of checks and gave it to her.

A court document filed by investigators said Yates, who had lost her job at a bank, said she took the money because she was behind on bills and depressed.

The theft was discovered in 2020 when a new treasurer took over and noticed discrepancies in the boosters’ accounts.

Yates was charged in June with a count of embezzling between $1,000 and $20,000 from a nonprofit or charitable organization and a count of attempted embezzlement. She pleaded guilty to the first count in November. Under a plea agreement, the charge of attempted embezzlement was dropped.

The court document said she previously wrote a letter of apology to the boosters.