VILONIA — Three family members were arrested Friday night for allegedly stealing thousands of dollars from the Vilonia School District’s athletic department, according to Vilonia police.
Ricky Huey, 52, Rebecca Huey, 50, and Ruth Huey, 71, all of Vilonia, were taken into custody at about 9 p.m. Friday by the Vilonia Police Department and charged with allegedly stealing gate money at Vilonia sporting events. Chief Brad McNew of the VPD said more than $3,500 was allegedly seized from the three following the Friday night game. McNew also said he has video tapes to back up the allegations.
"They were very organized, and they knew what they were doing," McNew said. "They have been doing it a long time."
Ricky Huey has been charged with 10 counts of felony theft with a $150,000 bond. Rebecca Huey has been charged with three counts of felony theft with a $45,000 bond. Ruth Huey has been charged with one count of felony theft with a $15,000 bond.
The arrests was made in a combined effort of the VPD and the 20th Judicial Prosecuting Attorney’s Office. The investigation is ongoing, McNew said.
The investigation, he said, has been ongoing for several months. Dr. Frank Mitchell, school superintendent, said former athletic director Matt Sewell, who resigned his position prior to the beginning of the the school year to take another job, was instrumental in the investigation.
"He (Sewell) observed some things before he left and brought it to our attention. One being … that we didn’t seem to be bringing in the revenue that it appeared we should be," Mitchell said. "From there, we turned it over to the police and we cooperated with them on it."
On that note, Mitchell praised Sewell and the VPD for their ongoing efforts.
"This was handled in a very professional way," Mitchell said. "We have been working in cooperation with them for quite some time to deal with it."
It was believed, Mitchell said, that safety checks were in place to prevent such an occurrence from taking place. Gate keepers, he said, aren’t suppose to leave the ticket booth with any of the money. And, the money is picked up by more than one school personnel. Tickets and money are counted and matched and money is never left over night.
"We thought we had a lot of things in place to keep anything like this from happening," Mitchell said.
The Huey family has been serving in a volunteer capacity as gate keepers at athletic events for about 10 years and have in the past received recognition for their service to the school, Mitchell said.
"It’s very disappointing," he said.
Ricky Huey and Ruth Huey, he said, are both school aides. Ruth Huey, he said, is an aide at the elementary school, and Ricky Huey works with the band program.
Also taken into custody at Vilonia High School Friday night was Tina Harrison, 39, of Vilonia. She was charged with possession of one-quarter ounce of marijuana. According to Harrison’s arrest report, she allegedly told police the marijuana was for medicinal purposes and belonged to a family member suffering with cancer.