February 19, 2014 - By Dan Shriner
Lake Orion cheerleading Coach Nancy De Avila has been charged with embezzlement for allegedly using funds from a charitable organization at Lake Orion Schools for personal use.
The charitable fund was the Natalie Rae Nance Scholarship Fund. Money donated to the charity was to be used to provide small monetary scholarships to graduating Lake Orion High School students in the areas of art, cosmetology and cheerleading.
De Avila was arraigned in 52-3 District Court on Tuesday on a felony charge of embezzlement of a charitable group from $200 to $1,000. The charge carries a maximum penalty of five years imprisonment, a $10,000 fine or restitution of three times the amount of money embezzled.
She also was arraigned on an alternate misdemeanor count of embezzlement of $200 to $1,000. It includes a fine of $2,000 or three times the amount of money embezzled.
Magistrate Maria Soma placed De Avila on a $10,000 personal bond with a provision not to have contact with the Natalie Rae Nance Scholarship representatives.
Lake Orion School officials said De Avila has resigned from her position at the district. She was the competitive cheer coach and the team was having a good season, winning the district championship on Saturday. She was named the District Coach of the Year.
The Orion Township office of the Oakland County Sheriff's Department began an investigation into the fund in December.
In November, organizers of the charity charged with managing the funds detected shortages and filed a police report after their efforts to look into the shortages were stalled by lack of cooperation from a fund member.
The two-month investigation found that funds from the charity were allegedly converted to De Avila's personal use over a three-year period. She was one of those entrusted with managing the fund.
The investigation found that checks from the funds were used to purchase goods and services and make payments on personal credit card accounts
The Natalie Rae Nance Scholarship Fund was established after Natalie Rae Nance died in an automobile accident in January 2006.
She was 21 years old and a 2003 graduate from Lake Orion High School. Shortly after her death, a scholarship fund was started by Natalie's parents.
The fund was established in memory of Natalie and would award monetary scholarships to graduating Lake Orion students in three areas: Art, Cosmetology and Cheerleading.
The fund was supported by donations with one main fundraising gala held every year in the Lake Orion Community.
De Avila's next court date is set for February 27.