Crime - Sacto 911

Sacramento music nonprofit out of money after alleged embezzlement

The Sacramento Valley Symphonic Band Association puts up money for local bands from Auburn to Elk Grove to perform, covering insurance and transportation, among other costs.
The Sacramento Valley Symphonic Band Association puts up money for local bands from Auburn to Elk Grove to perform, covering insurance and transportation, among other costs. video image

A nonprofit that helps Sacramento-area bands with performance costs has lost about $100,000 to embezzlement, according to the group.

The Sacramento Valley Symphonic Band Association puts up money for local bands from Auburn to Elk Grove to perform, covering insurance and transportation, among other costs.

Les Lehr, vice president and founder, said board members discovered funds missing in August after several irregular withdrawals.

“I went to the bank to get copies of the monthly statements,” Lehr said Wednesday. “Moneys were changed and withdrawn from accounts without board approval.”

The allegations have been reported to the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department, which assigned a detective to the case this week, said sheriff’s spokesman Tony Turnbull.

Lehr said the nonprofit’s ATM card was used for personal expenses, including at Red Hawk Casino and Hilton hotels. Lehr said former president Gary McCoy was the only person who had access to the card.

McCoy, who resigned his post following the discovery, declined to be interviewed because of the ongoing investigation.

“I’m waiting to hear back from my attorney,” McCoy said. “I have not been charged. I apologized for anything that occurred, but I’m not admitting guilt.”

The association was founded in 1983 and has 600 members. It also offered banking services to some of the bands.

“We had about $17,000 in the account,” said George Preston, a member of the Sacramento Symphonic Winds. The group lost all of its money, Preston said.

Lehr said safeguards have been instituted to prevent fraud, including canceling the ATM card.

He said the organization has just $5,000 on hand and is seeking donations.

Those wanting to help can send checks to “SVSBA” at P.O. Box 60725 Sacramento, CA 95860.

Richard Chang: 916-321-1018, @RichardYChang

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