Over the course of two years, the former athletic director at Cutler Bay Senior High School bilked student athletes of more than $3,000 by pocketing health insurance payments and an unauthorized “athletic fee,” according to an investigation discussed during a Miami-Dade School Board committee meeting on Tuesday.
Alphonso Thomas collected money from 60 student athletes to pay for health insurance for the 2014-2015 school year, but only purchased insurance for 38, pocketing a difference of $660, according to investigators from the Miami-Dade County Office of the Inspector General. The following year, the athletic director collected $30 health insurance payments from 80 students and an additional $20 from most of the students for an unapproved “athletic fee,” investigators said.
Thomas gave students and school staff different explanations for the fee, including that the money was going to be used to fix the locker rooms and buy drinks for athletes during sports games, according to Tom Knigge, an agent from the Inspector General’s Office.
When investigators from the school district confronted Thomas about the payments in December 2015, he admitted to putting at least $3,240 into his personal account, according to reports from investigators. Thomas said he had done so because of a shortage of staff at the school and said he was willing to pay the money back, but a check he sent to the health insurance company was returned until the investigation could be completed.
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Thomas decided to retire in March at the age of 60 while the investigation was underway. He had been an employee of Miami-Dade public schools since 1988. He was arrested in late October and charged with one count of felony grand theft.
Thomas’ defense attorney said Tuesday that his client had agreed to pay full restitution but had not admitted any guilt in the matter.
“The case has been resolved and my client won’t have a record,” attorney David Seltzer said.
The case was highlighted at an audit committee meeting on Tuesday as part of the committee’s review of reports from the Inspector General’s Office and school district auditors.