CHARLOTTE — A Charlotte couple was sentenced Monday after they stole $239,000 from a high school’s booster club. The husband was also sentenced after he tried to cover up the theft with fraudulently obtaining $236,000 in COVID-19 relief money, according to Dena J. King, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of North Carolina.
Anthony Sharper, 42, served as the interim president and treasurer for South Mecklenburg High School’s Athletic Booster Club and his wife, Deana Sharper, 47, ran the concession stand and school store. The couple was indicted on May 19, 2021.
Anthony Sharper was sentenced to 30 months in prison followed by two years of supervised release. He was also ordered to pay $310,832. Deana Sharper was ordered to serve 21 months in prison with two years of supervised release and was ordered to pay $239,742.
US Attorneys said that between 2017 and June 2020, the couple executed a scheme to defraud and embezzle $239,000 from the club by writing checks to themselves for purported reimbursement. They wired funds directly to their personal bank account and used the booster club’s debit cards and credit card to pay for personal expenditures, like a trip to London and Charlotte Hornets tickets, according to an indictment.
Anthony Sharper, who is a certified public accountant, then tried to cover up the theft by using COVID-19 relief loans that he fraudulently obtained, according to investigators.
The documents state that between March and May 2020, he submitted three fraudulent applications for federal COVID-19 relief funds, including two fraudulent Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan applications. One of those was one in the name of the booster club and one was in the name of his accounting firm, A. Sharper CPA, PLLC and an Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) application to the Small Business Administration (SBA) on behalf of his CPA firm.
According to the indictment, all three applications contained false information, including fake revenues and fake payroll and employment data. As a result of the fraudulent applications, Anthony Sharper received more than $236,000 in COVID-19 relief funds intended for existing businesses harmed by the coronavirus pandemic.
After receiving the money, investigators said Anthony Sharper used the funds to pay for personal expenditures and to cover up the couple’s theft of the booster club’s funds.
The indictment also states that Anthony Sharper committed tax fraud by failing to report any of the embezzled funds on the couple’s joint 2018 and 2019 tax returns filed with the IRS.
Christopher Young represents the Sharpers. He didn’t comment on the case after the couple was charged but urged everyone to keep an open mind.
“They are very nice people,” Young said. “They are very nice people and as the legal process runs its course, everybody will find out more.”
Anthony Sharper previously pleaded guilty to wire fraud, making a false statement to a financial institution, engaging in monetary transactions in criminally derived property, and tax fraud. Deana Sharper pleaded guilty to wire fraud.
Both defendants were released on bond and will be ordered to report to the federal Bureau of Prisons to begin serving their sentence upon designation of a federal facility.
Statement from Co-President of South Meck Sports Boosters after the indictment:
“Following the resignation of both Anthony and Deana Sharper from the Booster’s Board last year, irregular transactions were identified and brought to the attention of our bank representative.
“Subsequently, the organization was contacted by law enforcement and cooperated fully with their investigation. This has had a detrimental impact on our student-athletes.
“For this reason, South Meck Sports Boosters is grateful for the thorough investigation completed by law enforcement.”
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Cox Media Group