MAY 05, 2009
A public high school football coach who is also a sergeant in the local police department has been charged with stealing thousands of dollars from the team and spending the money at strip clubs, bars, racetracks and casinos.
The popular coach and veteran law enforcement officer (James Atkins) is being tried this week in Suffolk County Massachusetts for taking the money—raised largely by players and their families—from the school located in the inner urban suburb of Boston called Chelsea. He has been charged with seven counts of larceny.
Prosecutors say that Atkins stole a total of about $10,000, often withdrawing cash from the team’s bank account at Automatic Teller Machines (ATM) during late-night hours. The withdrawals drew suspicion because the ATMs were located near strip clubs, racetracks, casinos and downtown sports bars.
One questionable withdrawal for $500 took place at an ATM right across the rotary from a Revere strip club called the Squire Lounge at around two in the morning. Other three-figure withdrawals in the night took place at machines adjacent to the Foxwoods Casino in Connecticut and the Seabrook Greyhound Park dog racing track in New Hampshire. The coach also used the team’s ATM card to pay a $634 bar tab at a Boston hotel.
Atkins was a trusted and highly regarded coach who turned a failing program around and was frequently recognized for his contributions to the community, especially as supervisor for the gang unit at the Chelsea Police Department. In 2005 a professional football organization named him coach of the week and donated $1,000 to his prep team. The Chelsea Police Department has suspended Atkins with pay until his legal issues get resolved.
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