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Couple pleads no contest to Dixie embezzlement (UPDATED)

South Boston News South Boston News
Harold and Tracy Carmichael
SoVaNow.com / March 01, 2018
A South Boston couple — former board members of Dixie Youth Baseball — pleaded no contest to charges of embezzlement Wednesday in Halifax County Circuit Court.

Harold and Tracy Carmichael of South Boston each offered a no contest plea to a single charge apiece of felony embezzlement, and prosecutors agreed to drop another set of felony embezzlement charges against the couple. The defendants have been ordered to pay $5,000 restitution.

Final disposition of their cases has been pushed back to Aug. 30. According to Commonwealth's Attorney Tracy Q. Martin, the Carmichaels will have charges against them dropped if they follow through with payment of restitution in the next six months.

"After six months, if they have paid the restitution and have been of uniform good behavior, the charges will be dismissed by agreement. If they fail to pay the $5000 in full or fail to be law abiding, they would each be found guilty of felony embezzlement and would be sentenced accordingly," she said in a statement on the case, published in full below.

“It has been a long time getting to this day," said Jack Dunavant III, who served as Dixie president for the combined South Boston-Halifax organization when the embezzlement took place. "Our baseball community has been divided ever since this happened. With this plea and the agreement to pay restitution, this matter is over. People can now understand what happened. With that said, I want everyone to come together. I want to thank the Board, the investigators and, of course, the work of the Commonwealth’s Attorney for bringing this to a close.”

Long active in local youth ball programs, the Carmichaels were arrested in December 2016 in connection with their involvement with the Halifax County Dixie Youth Baseball program. They were indicted for felony embezzlement for alleged thefts dating from Oct. 1, 2011-Jan. 1, 2013.

No dollar sum was specified in the indictment, other than Virginia’s $200 statutory threshold for felony theft.

Harold Carmichael, 54, was an active volunteer with Halifax County Dixie Youth through at least March 2013, when he handled signups for the league that year. Prior to his involvement with Dixie baseball in South Boston, Carmichael was a longtime volunteer with the Cluster Springs baseball program.

Tracy Carmichael, 49, like her husband, was released without bond pending trial after she reported to the Halifax Adult Detention Center on Dec. 7, 2016 for processing.

Martin's statement on the case is as follows:

"On February 28, 2018, Tracy and Harold Carmichael entered pleas of 'No Contest' to charges of felony embezzlement from the Halifax County Dixie Youth baseball league.

"Said Halifax County Commonwealth’s Attorney Tracy Quackenbush Martin, 'The Commonwealth, in consultation with representatives of the Halifax County Dixie Youth Board and the Virginia State Police, agreed to accept pleas of no contest from the Carmichaels and their payment of $5000 restitution to the league within six months. After six months, if they have paid the restitution and have been of uniform good behavior, the charges will be dismissed by agreement. If they fail to pay the $5000 in full or fail to be law abiding, they would each be found guilty of felony embezzlement and would be sentenced accordingly.'

"Pursuant to a plea agreement, the Carmichaels stipulated to the sufficiency of the Commonwealth’s evidence against them. At the plea hearing Wednesday, Martin stated the evidence in the case and the reasons for entering the agreement:

"Between October of 2011 and March of 2014, both Tracy and Harold Carmichael served on the board of the Dixie Youth. Tracy Carmichael was the treasurer, and Harold Carmichael helped manage the league as commissioner. The Carmichaels remained on the board of the combined Halifax and South Boston Dixie Youth leagues after they merged in 2013.

"During the 2013 season, a number of board members grew concerned about the financial status of the organization and developed a sense that more income was being generated, particularly in concession sales, than was being reported. Their concern grew when they asked to review the league’s accounts and the Carmichaels refused. Once they obtained bank statements and realized that Tracy Carmichael had been writing checks to Harold Carmichael for unexplained or apparently illegitimate purposes, they turned the matter over to the Virginia State Police.

"The Virginia State Police conducted an extensive investigation. Had we gone to trial, the Commonwealth intended to show several areas of concern. First, the Carmichaels were using the Dixie, Inc. accounts to pay for personal expenses. Second, Mrs. Carmichael wrote Mr. Carmichael a number of checks while baseball was not in season—a time, board members would have testified, no legitimate expenses were incurred. Third, a number of reimbursements had no apparent explanation or insufficient explanation.

"The Commonwealth acknowledges significant evidentiary gaps in proving these matters. At the time of trial, the board was not unified as to what authority it had conveyed to the Carmichaels to reimburse themselves for certain expenses. Also problematic was the Commonwealth’s lack of access to financial reports and board minutes which the board had entrusted to Tracy Carmichael, as secretary and treasurer, to keep.

"The presiding judge, Honorable J. Leyburn Mosby, Jr., stated that the agreement was 'appropriate to the disposition of the case.

"Jack Dunavant, III, who served as Dixie Youth President when the charges arose and is a current board member, expressed relief, stating, 'It has been a long time getting to this day. Our baseball community has been divided ever since this happened. With this plea and the agreement to pay restitution, this matter is over. People can now understand what happened. With that said, I want everyone to come together. I want to thank the Board, the investigators and, of course, the work of the Commonwealth’s Attorney for bringing this to a close.'

"Steven Crutchfield, immediate past Dixie Youth President and current board member, was instrumental in revising league protocols. 'This unfortunate situation has shone a light on the importance of the need for oversight policies in all organizations. Halifax County Dixie Youth has worked diligently to put policies in place to prevent something like this from happening in the future. We would like to thank the community for their continued support of Halifax County Dixie Youth Baseball throughout this process.'"




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Comments

This article seems to be written by someone with the grammar and understanding of a five-year-old child. This presents one side of a case that will eventually be dismissed so why are the accusations of the Commonwealths attorney and the complaining parties being presented as fact? If the case were so cut and dry, the individuals who were accused would have been found guilty and would have been in jail a long time ago. Considering the initial arrest was made in Dec. 2016, wouldn't the case have already been settled if Mrs. Quakenbush-Martin had evidence leaning towards guilty? It seems to me as though this is still questionable and that the whole story is not truly out in the open.


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