Crime

Arlington and Coppell gym manager accused of defrauding employer out of $1.1 million

A longtime employee of a cheer and gymnastics school has been accused of embezzling more than $1 million over a period of nearly four years.

Debra Morgan, who was hired in 2005 as a bookkeeper and manager at Spirit of Texas Cheer and Gymnastics, is suspected of engineering an escalating scheme to divert money from her employer and use that money for her own personal expenses, according to documents filed in federal court on Monday.

Between January 2014 and October 2018, Morgan used revenue from Spirit of Texas Cheer and Gymnastics, with locations in Arlington and Coppell, to pay her credit card bills and vacation expenses, buy jewelry, and make student loan payments, a federal court document states.

Officials with Spirit of Texas Cheer and Gymnastics could not immediately be reached for comment.

Morgan is also accused of making payroll overpayments to herself and another employee, as well as pocketing fees from customers who paid in cash, court documents state. Morgan disguised her personal expenses as legitimate business expenses, falsified payroll amounts and debit charges, and deceived an accountant by providing deceptive notes to back statements, the documents say.

The payroll overpayments to herself and another employee alone totaled more than $493,000, the information document said. Similar to an indictment, a federal information sets out an allegation of a crime.

According to court documents, Morgan falsely reported employee payroll records for September 2017, through March 15, 2018. In an email, Morgan falsely listed her pay as $15,300 and the other employee’s pay as $9,860, for a total of $25,160. But during this six-month period, Morgan allegedly paid herself and the other employee nearly three times that amount at approximately $36,000 each, or $72,000, federal agents allege.

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Mitch Mitchell is an award-winning reporter covering courts and crime for the Star-Telegram. Additionally, Mitch’s past coverage on municipal government, healthcare and social services beats allow him to bring experience and context to the stories he writes.
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