Loock receives probation for ELC Booster Club theft
Timothy Loock, former treasurer of the Estherville Lincoln Central High School athletic booster club entered a plea of guilty to theft in the first degree, a class C felony at a virtual hearing Monday morning. Judge David Lester heard Loock’s statement to the court, in which he said he was “super sorry” for taking nearly $30,000 from the booster club over the years he was treasurer, and cited his taking full responsibility for the theft, his own financial difficulties, a fairly recently-started job with a company in Minnesota, and his strong ties to the Estherville area as reasons he should receive a deferred judgment. Loock also cited his previous clean criminal record as a reason he might be a good candidate for a deferred judgment.
A deferred judgment would keep the felony off Loock’s record, preventing obstacles for future employment and other matters. County attorney Melanie Summers-Bauler had agreed with Loock’s attorney Pamela Wingert to recommend probation for Loock. Summers-Bauler said the state had no objection to a term of probation because Loock had employment, the support of his family, ties to the community, mature age of 55 years, and other factors that gave him potential for success on probation.
Loock also had delivered through his attorney a check for $27,933 as restitution to the ELC Booster Club. Loock said he’d needed to borrow the money to pay the restitution.
Judge Lester also heard from Katie Hanson on behalf of the booster club. Hanson said the booster club sought to have Loock prosecuted to the full extent of the law because of the damage Loock’s actions wreaked on the club and to show the students that people will be held accountable for their decisions. Hanson said the club could not be fully compensated for its losses with cash alone.
“The lifeblood of our organization is the support of the community,” Hanson said. Loock’s actions caused concern among individuals and businesses who regularly donate to the booster club, and donations had decreased for the 2019-2020 season, Hanson said.
The booster club board also had to divert attention from the mission of assisting ELC’s student-athletes, instead concentrating on forensic accounting and repairing relationships with the community among other unwanted activities, all adding up to time the board spent away from their families.
Hanson also said Loock’s actions were not a one-time event, but an ongoing series of decisions Loock made which harmed the booster club, the students, parents, coaches, and greater community.
Judge Lester asked Loock if he freely consented to having his sentence read in the same hearing as presenting his plea. The judge cited immediate imposition of the sentence as one drawback to doing so, as opposed to having time at home between plea and sentencing should incarceration be part of the sentence. Loock said he was ready for sentencing.
County attorney Summers-Bauler reiterated the fact that Loock’s actions were not a one-time event.
“[Loock’s] statement that he was borrowing money and planned to repay it is just an excuse. He was entrusted with the money on behalf of ELC. He betrayed every student…no organization should have to go through what the booster club went through,” Summers-Bauler said.
Judge Lester said he agreed with the state’s view that the seriousness of Loock’s crime made a deferred judgment inappropriate. Because the state did not resist probation, and because Loock had no previous criminal record, in addition to the fact that Loock possessed “skills and abilities to succeed on probation,” Judge Lester sentenced Loock to a prison sentence not to exceed ten years, which was immediately suspended. The judge imposed three years of probation to be served with the Third Judicial District of the Iowa Department of Corrections, to which Loock is required to sign a probation agreement which may include terms not spelled out by the court. The judge suspended the minimum $1,000 fine for a class C felony with a $350 surcharge due to Loock’s cited financial difficulties.
Loock will have to pay a probation supervision fee and $140 law enforcement surcharge. Loock must report for probation within five days, adhere to the rules and regulations the probation department requires, and take a victim empathy course.
In a statement, the ELC booster club thanked the community for its support.
“While today’s sentence does not undo the harm that has been done to the ELC Booster Club, the Estherville community and the ELC student athletes, it does provide some justice. Although we requested Mr. Loock be prosecuted to the full extent of the law, we are pleased that the state’s decision to deny deferred judgement will ensure that a felony conviction will be permanent on his record. Other entities will therefore be put on notice that this is a person not to be trusted with financial matters,” the statement said.
The booster club’s statement expressed its continuing commitment to creating a positive experience for ELC’s student-athletes.