Wednesday, January 20, 2021
Jan. 20, 2021

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Former Prairie High football boosters president faces allegations of theft

By , Columbian Breaking News Reporter

The former president of the Falcon Football Boosters at Prairie High School faces allegations in Clark County Superior Court that she stole tens of thousands of dollars from the nonprofit.

Laura J. Bobst, 52, of Vancouver made a first appearance Wednesday on suspicion of two counts of first-degree theft, second-degree theft, four counts of unlawful production of payment instruments and forgery.

Judge Daniel Stahnke granted Bobst supervised release. Bobst had received a summons Nov. 30 to appear before the court; she hasn’t been taken into the custody of Clark County Jail. Court records say she still needs to be booked and released due to the allegations, which should happen by Jan. 15 because of “illness or when cleared medically.”

An arraignment hearing is scheduled for Tuesday.

The alleged theft from the nonprofit, which supports the high school’s football program, was reported to police in February 2019, after a new board of directors failed to obtain financial documents from the former president and discovered its bank account was low on funds, according to a motion in support of the court summons.

Bobst served as the nonprofit’s president from 2015 to early 2019. Her son was a student and football team member at Prairie High School until he graduated in June 2017. After his graduation, Bobst volunteered to remain president, and the new board eventually had to pressure her to step down from the position, according to the motion.

The new board held a meeting on Feb. 21 and attempted to retrieve financial documents and statements from Bobst, but she had none to hand off at that time, the motion says. The following day, the board reportedly discovered there was only $710 in its bank account. There was reportedly $23,000 in the account in January 2015, and the nonprofit collected through fundraising more than $156,000 by the end of 2018.

The board took immediate steps to protect booster club funds, including freezing the former boosters bank account, submitting an application for a new booster club now known as the Prairie Football Boosters and implementing new policies and procedures to prevent wrongful activities from happening in the future, said board president Amanda Kapelka.

“While we cannot correct the actions of one, we firmly believe the newly established policies and procedures will prevent similar misconduct in the future,” Kapelka said.

The investigation — during which bank records, deposit slips, canceled checks and account transactions were examined — found that between January 2016 and December 2018, Bobst made over $34,000 in cash deposits from the nonprofit’s account into her personal bank account, according to the motion.

“She also used the money from the Booster’s account to unlawfully create checks to pay personal debts, made an online auto payment on behalf of her daughter, made dozens of merchant purchases taking thousands in cash back, and forged an invoice altering it to appear that she paid cash, and created false credit card statements in an effort to conceal her theft,” the motion says.

Bobst also is alleged to have stolen about $8,800 in football funds by making dozens of ATM withdrawals between February and December 2016. She would make cash deposits into her own bank account, generally consisting of $20 bills, on the same day as the withdrawals, according to the motion.

Bobst’s defense attorney did not return calls for comment.

Kapelka said the nonprofit is currently working to repair its trust among parents, players, coaches and others. There has been a significant funding gap due to the alleged theft.

“We have been working hard to overcome this and still have a long way to go as you can imagine,” Kapelka said.