A Scotia woman is accused of stealing money from the parents of competitive cheerleaders, pocketing the cash put up to enter competitions and then lying about it.
Glenville police said Wednesday that Michelle R. Crandall, 26, was charged after an investigation into her business, Empire Explosion All Stars Cheerleading, at 584 Saratoga Road.
Police said they began investigating after receiving complaints from parents who said they gave Crandall money for instruction, equipment and competition, but didn’t receive what they paid for.
Police spokesman Lt. Steve Janik said the children received some instruction, but nothing that amounts to what the families paid for.
The families started getting concerned, Janik said, after things that were supposed to happen didn’t.
“She was making a lot of excuses to the families as to why things weren’t happening,” Janik said.
Parents then started talking to each other and checking on what Crandall was telling them, Janik said. In one case, parents believed Crandall had signed their children up for a competition in Rhode Island, but then Crandall told them the competition was canceled. When parents checked, police said, they discovered the children were never signed up and the competition went on as scheduled. The fees also were not paid.
It was unclear how long Crandall operated the organization, Janik said, but families had known her for several years because of her previous involvement in the sport.
Crandall allegedly received checks from more than 10 families in Saratoga and Schenectady counties. In all, she is accused of taking more than $3,000 and failing to follow through on scheduled events.
Crandall is specifically accused of taking the money between September 2012 and last month. She is charged with one count of first-degree scheme to defraud, a felony.
Individually, each case would be a misdemeanor petty larceny count, Janik said. Together, with similar methods of taking the money, they become a felony scheme to defraud, he said.
Papers filed in court allege that more than $2,300 was taken from six parents, ranging from $213 to as much as $550. Crandall is accused of promising to sign the cheerleaders up for nine cheerleading competitions but never did.
Crandall also left families with disappointed children, Janik said.
“According to the families, they’re quite upset,” Janik said of the cheerleaders. “This was something their children had trained for and aspired to be, and they weren’t able to go out there to compete and show their skill.”
There was no answer Wednesday afternoon at the Empire All Stars location on Saratoga Road. Crandall was charged Tuesday evening and is due to appear in court next week.
Anyone who believes they may have been a victim is asked to contact Glenville detectives at 384-0135.