The San Luis Obispo District Attorney's Office is accusing Sherry Gong, 47, of three counts of grand theft embezzlement from the Atascadero High School Band and Pageantry Booster Club.
In a complaint filed July 8 against Gong, who was the booster club's treasurer, the DA's Office alleges that Gong took a total of $32,554 from the club.
According to the complaint, on July 5, 2017, Gong unlawfully took $3,104 from one of the band and club's Union Bank accounts.
On April 24, 2018, Gong took $19,600 from one Union Bank account and $9,850 from another Union Bank account, both of which belonged to the band and club, according to the DA's Office.
Lt. Robert Mollé of the Atascadero Police Department told New Times the department received a call from an Atascadero High School administrator on March 27, 2019.
"One of our detectives interviewed her on April 19, she cooperated with us, and we subsequently filed the charges with the District Attorney's Office," Mollé said.
Soon after the charges were announced, Gong's husband, SLO County Clerk-Recorder Tommy Gong, sent out a press release requesting privacy for the family issue.
"I was not aware of this matter until I received a call from an Atascadero Police Department detective recently, and I am not implicated in these matters," the press release states. "I deeply love and care for my wife and family, and I will stand by her side and support her during this very difficult time."
New Times reached out to Tommy Gong for further comment, but he did not respond before press time.
Sherry's attorney Guy Galambos sent New Times a statement on her behalf stating that about a year ago Sherry was subject to a highly stressful family crisis.
"A close family member called her in a panic. He begged her for a large sum of money he needed within three days, declaring it was a matter of life or death, but wouldn't elaborate on the details," the statement reads.
Sherry was frightened and embarrassed by the family issue and did not tell her husband or children, according to the statement. It states, "under extreme stress" Sherry "made a very serious mistake and borrowed funds." The money that was "borrowed" was directly given to her family, and the statement says the funds did not directly benefit herself, her husband, or children.
"She fully intended to repay this emergency loan, but the money was never given back to her as promised," the statement says.
When Sherry was contacted by the Atascadero Police Department, she agreed to an interview where she admitted her actions, and she presented the investigating detective with cashier's checks to replace the funds, according to the statement.
An arrest warrant for Sherry was recalled July 8 after Galambos posted $25,000 bail in cash for the embezzlement charges, the attorney said. Δ