No Jail for Another Former Palm Beach AD Who Siphoned Coaching Stipends | Athletic Business

No Jail for Another Former Palm Beach AD Who Siphoned Coaching Stipends

Palm Beach County School District

A day after AB Today shared the case of a former high school athletic director pocketing stipends for coaching duties she never performed comes word that a similar situation within the same Florida school district has reached resolution.

As reported by CBS affiliate WPEC in West Palm Beach, Olympic Heights Community High School athletic director Cindy Lucia had been accused in late February of 2019 of misappropriating athletic supplements meant to compensate teachers who also coach sports.

Lucia, 60, was arrested in June on charges of grand theft and official misconduct to the tune of $16,000 in misappropriated funds.

Related: Former AD Accused of Lying, Stealing $16K in Stipends

WPEC reported Thursday that Lucia will not retain her position, as she had requested, but that she will not be going to jail, either.

An inspector general's 72-page report — dated Oct. 4, 2021, and obtained by WPEC — said the principal told investigators her secretary "brought it to her attention that one of the athletic supplements being utilized was for gender equity."

According to the report, Lucia told investigators, "Gender equity funds are funds that the school receives from the district that are strictly used to purchase items such as uniforms, supplies, paint that lines the field, and anything that will make female sports equal to male sports. The school receives $10,000 each year. Gender equity supplements are only for coaching.”

As reported by WPEC, the report indicates, “[The principal] stated Ms. Lucia was listed as the assistant girls’ junior varsity soccer coach and assistant director [a man] was listed as an assistant girls’ weightlifting coach. [The principal] stated she had a list of coaches for each sport, and neither Ms. Lucia nor [the assistant athletic director] had been coaches for the sports indicated.

“At that point, [the principal] asked [her secretary] to give her the athletic supplement list that was completed in the fall of 2018 by Cindy Lucia. [The principal] stated after reviewing the supplement request list, she discovered that Ms. Lucia did not coach girls’ tennis or girls swimming as indicated on the supplement request document that was provided by Ms. Lucia. [The principal] stated to her knowledge, there was no assistant for tennis. [An assistant principal] previously assisted the tennis coach and not Ms. Lucia.

“To [the principal]'s knowledge, the athletic supplements in question are girls’ tennis, girls’ swimming, and girls’ junior varsity soccer and wrestling. [The principal] stated the tennis season overlaps the softball season, which Ms. Lucia coaches, which she cannot coach two different sports at the same time. [The principal] stated Ms. Lucia attempted to put [the assistant athletic director] in as the girls weightlifting coach, but ultimately, [the principal] denied the request for both Ms. Lucia and [the assistant athletic director]. [The principal] stated [someone else] is the only coach for weightlifting and he does not have an assistant. [The principal] added that the only sport that Ms. Lucia legitimately coaches is softball.”

The inspector general's report put the total amount stolen by Lucia at $16,675.

Lucia's actions are more egregious in dollar amount but eerily mirrored in a case reported this week by WPEC and The Palm Beach Post and shared Wednesday by AB Today.

In that case, Andrea Smith-Thomas, the 56-year-old former athletic director at Atlantic High School, which like Olympic Heights Community High is in The School District of Palm Beach County, has been accused of collecting $4,609.80 for coaching work — in boys' weightlifting and girls' lacrosse — that she didn't perform.

Related: Former High School AD Charged with Stealing Coaches' Stipends

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