Former cheer coach charged with embezzlement, says some money spent on new uniforms

A judge scheduled another pre-hearing conference for March 7 in the case of former SF State cheer coach Ashlee Nicole Haley after claims that some embezzled funds were allocated to new uniforms.

Haley sat alone in an aisle seat near the back of the room when Judge Jeff Ross took the bench at approximately 9:25 a.m. at the Hall of Justice.

Haley, who is accused of misappropriating $20,000 from at least 20 SF State cheerleaders, has been charged with 12 counts of grand theft, 16 counts of obtaining money under false pretenses and one count of embezzlement.

According Sanaz Nikaein, district attorney for the case and specialist in large-sum embezzlement cases, a disposition has almost been reached for the case.

The district attorney made an offer to Haley in February, but when she appeared in court March 1, the two sides had not yet come to a final decision.

The funds allegedly embezzled by Haley were originally billed for an optional cheer camp in Southern California, new uniforms and other expenses; 17 members of the cheer team paid her more than $1,000.

However, she now says that some cheerleaders did receive new uniforms.

“She doesn’t want to pay for (the uniforms that were received),” Nikaein said. “Now we’re going to try to make contact with (the other cheerleaders) and make sure.”

The cheerleaders claim otherwise. When questioned, current cheer coach Jessica DiSanto said no uniforms were received last year.

The money Haley allegedly acquired, none of which she received from the University, was supposedly used for Haley’s rent, food and a trip to Las Vegas.

She pled guilty to all 29 criminal offenses on Sept. 27.

DiSanto said that while the cheer team is angry that the money was taken, she does not believe Haley necessarily deserves jail time.

“I would just like restitution,” she said. “I think that’s fair to receive. Everyone who lost money should get it back. That’s really all I want.”

Haley’s actions were exposed when a cheerleader complained to cheer adviser Larry Birello after returning from the camp for which Haley supposedly used the money.

Some cheerleaders are relieved that Haley was caught in spite of the fact that the money was taken.

“We were all pretty upset, but we got it out there,” said cheer team member Nicole Pedro, an alleged victim of the embezzlement. “We’re just leaving it up to the authorities now.”

Although Pedro believes that the cheer team should not handle the issue, she agrees that restitution would be ideal.

“It’s not up to us really,” she said. “We don’t get to decide if she goes to jail or if anything else happens to her. All that really matters is getting the money back.”

When the incident occurred, the cheer team had no choice but to move on until the case was settled.

“All of us pretty much just dealt with it,” Pedro said. “Now we’re waiting to see what happens and hoping that they make the right decision.”

This court date was supposed to herald a plea or set the case for the preliminary hearing.

The new court date is set for Monday, March 7 at the Hall of Justice at 9 a.m.

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