Florida AD charged with theft after receiving funds for coaching team that didn’t even exist

Cameron Smith
Prep Rally

A former coach and co-athletic director of a Florida high school has been handed charges of fraud and grand theft in connection with receiving "supplementary funds" for coaching a team that didn't even exist at the school.

Glades Central High School — PalmBeach.K12.fl.us
Glades Central High School — PalmBeach.K12.fl.us

As reported by the Palm Beach Post, former Belle Glade (Fla.) Glades Central High co-athletic director Henry Cook Jr. requested and received $6,550 for coaching the school's swimming and flag football teams during the 2008 school year. There was just one problem with that request: Glades Central doesn't have a swimming team.

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It turns out that further interviews with the school's actual flag football coach also revealed he never received any of the funds intended for him, either, leaving questions of where the funds disappeared to. Eventually, all signs pointed to Cook, who was arrested for the charges against him on March 29 and released on bail shortly thereafter.

The Post reported that he has been placed on temporary reassignment within the school district from his current position at Riviera Beach (Fla.) John F. Kennedy Middle School, where he was reassigned in 2010.

Former Glades Central co-athletic director Henry Cook Jr. — Palm Beach County Sheriff
Former Glades Central co-athletic director Henry Cook Jr. — Palm Beach County Sheriff

Interestingly, Cook's partner in running the Glades Central athletic department, Cynthia Harrell-Baker, was also under investigation for similar irregularities in her dispersement of supplemental funds. An affidavit in the investigation into the high school's funding showed that Harrell-Baker was paid $3,850 in supplemental funds to coaching golf, a sport which she was not involved in herself.

Harrell-Baker used $2,700 of the $3,850 to pay two other school employees who were athletic department volunteers, though those recipients allegedly weren't qualified to receive any supplemental funds.

Despite the fact that $1,150 of the supplementary funds paid to Harrell-Baker were unaccounted for, the former Glades Central co-athletic director has not been charged with any crimes, though further charges in the case could follow.

Naturally, the grift employed by the two former Glades Central officials isn't the first among prep athletic directors, but the use of a sport which the school doesn't even compete in is a particularly brazen tactic. How that affects the case against Cook remains to be seen, but the circumstances around his case certainly make it seem unlikely that he will emerge without a criminal record.

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