Community College Basketball Coach Pleads Guilty to Embezzlement, Fraud
WICHITA, Kan.A former basketball coach at Barton County Community College in Great Bend, Kan., pleaded guilty to helping student-athletes get federal money they weren’t entitled to receive and to sending a falsified transcript to another school for one of his players.
Ryan Wolf, 33, pleaded guilty to one count of embezzlement from a student assistance program, two counts of theft of federal funds and one count of mail fraud.
Wolf had faced 38 counts as part of an investigation into the athletic program at the community college. The scandal has ensnared five coaches and led to the firing of the school’s president.
Prosecutors agreed to drop 34 charges against Wolf as part of a plea deal. The four guilty pleas came a day before Wolf’s trial was to begin. Roger Falk, Wolf’s defense attorney, said after the hearing that pleading guilty “was in our best interest.”
Wolf faces up to 20 years in prison for the fraud charge, up to 10 years for each theft charge and up to five years for the embezzlement charge. Sentencing is scheduled for Feb. 27.
The indictment alleged that from May 1998 through June 2003, Wolf used his job at the junior college to provide federal financial aid and false academic credentials to athletes.
Wolf pleaded guilty to embezzling $6,800 in grants and student loans by lying on a student aid application for Carlton Baker. Wolf admitted the application falsely stated that Baker would have a GED or high school diploma before he enrolled at Barton.
The mail fraud charge stems from a transcript for Baker that Wolf sent to San José State University in the summer of 2001. Prosecutors say Wolf had someone take the GED test for Baker and the GED certificate became part of Baker’s academic file.
Wolf also admitted to stealing about $89,613 from a campus work-study program and the Federal Work Study Program by falsifying time sheets for athletes, allowing them to be paid for work they didn’t do. Wolf was the third former coach at Barton to plead guilty in the scheme.
Matt Skillman, a former assistant basketball coach, was sentenced to two years probation. Former head basketball coach David “Soupy” Campbell has pleaded guilty to embezzlement. The investigation also led to the firing of former college president Veldon Law in July.
— Associated Press
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