Former high school athletic director claimed to coach several sports. Now she’s charged with stealing $16,000 from school.

South Florida Sun Sentinel

Jun 22, 2021 2:40 PM

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A former Olympic Heights High athletic director is accused of stealing more than $16,000 from the school after claiming she was an assistant for numerous sports she didn’t coach.

Cindy Lucia, who served as the school’s athletic director and softball coach from 2014-19, was arrested Friday on felony charges of official misconduct and grand theft.

Lucia, 60, falsely claimed she coached wrestling, girls swimming and boys tennis, allowing her to receive additional stipends, the arrest report said. During a two-year span from 2016-18, Lucia received seven additional coaching payments from the West Boca school, ranging from $1,925 to $3,275, the report said.

High school athletic directors are responsible for submitting coaches’ names to the school’s payroll department, allowing Lucia to allegedly use her own name for various sports she didn’t coach. Coaching supplements are paid in lump-sum totals following the sports seasons in fall, winter and spring.

Over the two years, Lucia received $7,625 for girls swimming, $5,200 for wrestling and $3,850 for boys tennis. The final payment was issued in December 2018.

Lucia was released on bond on Friday. She could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

Lucia is currently working as a teacher at Jupiter Farms Elementary School. Since school is out for the summer, Lucia is not scheduled to work again until Aug. 4.

Former Olympic Heights athletic director Cindy Lucia was arrested on charges of official misconduct and grand theft.

Former Olympic Heights athletic director Cindy Lucia was arrested on charges of official misconduct and grand theft. (Palm Beach Sheriff’s Office)

A Palm Beach County School District spokeswoman said the district will reassess Lucia’s status at the end of July.

An administrative assistant became suspicious in early 2019 after discovering Lucia’s name on a supplement list for a sport other than softball, the arrest report said. The school began an investigation and spoke with the head coaches for swimming, wrestling and tennis teams. All of the coaches said Lucia was never an assistant for their teams, the report said.

The swimming and wrestling coaches said they previously asked permission to hire assistants but were denied by Lucia, who was already receiving assistant coaching supplements at the time, according to the report.

Dave Clark, who served as Olympic Heights’ principal that time, told investigators he’s known Lucia for 45 years dating back to high school and “trusted her to provide accurate information,” the report said.

Clark added he “did not make an agreement with [Lucia] to receive a supplement for swimming, tennis or wrestling in exchange for providing another service to the school.”

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