FSU booster club official accused of grand theft

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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — The comptroller of the athletic booster organization at Florida State University remained in jail Thursday, accused of misappropriating between $500,000 and $700,000.

Sanford Lovingood turned himself in to the Leon County Sherriff's Office on Wednesday. He is charged with first-degree grand theft of over $100,000. The bond amount is listed at $25,000.

Lovingood told police he had been stealing money from the organization since 2011, according to the arrest affidavit written by officer Jared Lee.

Seminole Boosters Senior Vice-President Jerry Kutz said Lovingood was a 35-year employee and once held the title of chief financial officer. The two were friends for 33 years, even before Kutz began working with the organization.

"Surprised is an understatement," Kutz said. "It just seems so out of character. We're all stunned.

"There's a side of you that feels compassion for he and his family and there's a side of you that's really angry. And that feeling changes from moment to moment."

Lovingood said he had access to a Morgan Stanley account in which stock donations are made to the booster organization and then sold and turned into cash. He wrote checks from the account to the Schooner Development Co.

The Florida Department of State Division of Corporations lists Lovingood as the registered agent for the company, and the principal address for the business is the same as Lovingood's home address. He told police that he used the stolen money to pay for his own investments and personal expenses.

According to the affidavit, Lovingood said he understood that he could not repay the money during his lifetime and thought he could repay it by willing property to the booster organization upon his death.

The report states that an "officer" of the Schooner Development Company contacted members of the booster organization Wednesday morning and told an attorney for the organization that Lovingood had stolen a large amount of money.

Kutz said there's an insurance policy in place and all of the money will be recovered, but that isn't his biggest concern.

"The trust of booster club members is critical to our mission of funding Florida State University athletics," Kutz said. "We take that fiduciary responsibility very seriously. One breach in our organization's history is one breach too many.

Seminole Boosters Chief Executive Officer and President Andy Miller said in a news release issued jointly by the club and Florida State University that 65-year-old Lovingood was terminated immediately. A forensic audit is underway to determine how much money is missing and how it was taken.

"We know what he did, but did he do anything else?" Kuntz said. "The fiduciary responsibility is to do a top to bottom examination of everything, including what safeguards are in place. For 35 years we haven't had a problem, but one time is too many.

A Florida State spokesman said athletic director Stan Wilcox and the athletic department had no additional comment.

The organization provides financial support to FSU's athletic program.

Jail records did not indicate whether Lovingood has retained a lawyer.

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