Police: Penns Valley athletic director Don Hosterman charged with theft

Don Hosterman
Don Hosterman CDT file photo

The longtime athletic director for Penns Valley Area School District is facing theft charges after about $400 was discovered missing from district athletic event accounts, state police at Rockview said Tuesday.

According to a police report, Donald W. Hosterman, 68, of Millheim, was charged Tuesday with one count of theft by unlawful taking and one count of receiving stolen property, both misdemeanors.

On Feb. 8, state police reported that between Jan. 16 and Feb. 5, money was taken from various district athletic events. The suspect was known to police, and the matter was under investigation, they said.

The amount missing, police said, was $390.75, which came from admissions fees from various sporting events.

According to the criminal complaint filed Tuesday, Hosterman was tasked with placing admissions money into a safe after a sporting event. The following morning, Hosterman would count the money, document it, then have a secretary double check his math, the complaint said.

In January, a secretary counted the money before Hosterman did — without his knowledge — according to the complaint. Hosterman then conducted his count, documented it, and the secretary notified the principal of the discrepancy, according to police.

The school then repeated the procedure eight times and with multiple people counting the cash, and in each of the eight instances, there was a discrepancy, according to the criminal complaint. The eight discrepancies totaled $390.75, according to police.

Penns Valley Superintendent Brian Griffith confronted Hosterman about the missing money, and after hearing he was recorded placing money in his pocket during various counts, Hosterman admitted stealing the money, according to the complaint. Hosterman told Griffith he was in rough financial shape and needed money, the complaint said.

Trooper Jeffrey M. Ebeck, who led the investigation, said Hosterman also admitted to him that he took the cash from the sporting events beginning in January, Ebeck wrote in the criminal complaint. Ebeck reported in the complaint that Hosterman admitted to taking the money from wrestling events because “they drew larger crowds.”

Hosterman said no one else participated in the acts or had knowledge of the thefts, Ebeck wrote.

On Friday, the Centre Daily Times learned that Assistant Principal Laura Tobias was serving as acting athletic director.

When contacted by phone, Hosterman refused comment. He also wouldn’t say who was his attorney, but did say he was on his way to see an attorney.

“We are saddened by the events related to the theft of public funds and the impact it ultimately had on our students,” Griffith said. “We also recognize there are consequences to these actions.”

Griffith said the district will seek restitution for the thefts, but it is also making changes to help make prevent future problems.

“We have improved protocols and will continue to make improvements to protect public funds,” he added. “We have learned from this situation and look forward to moving ahead in a positive direction.”

Griffith had no comment on the nature of the breach or what protocol changes have been instituted in response.

The school board is expected to discuss the matter at its meeting at 7 p.m. Wednesday, board President Chris Houser said Friday.

Solicitor Scott Etter said Friday that when district officials discovered the thefts, they investigated and turned over their information to state police.

“We are cooperating fully with the investigation,” Etter said Tuesday.

Hosterman was charged in district court in Centre Hall. A preliminary hearing has not yet been scheduled.