Former coach sentenced for stealing cash

Posted: Wednesday, January 08, 2003

JUNEAU (AP) -- Former high school basketball coach James Hamey pleaded guilty to stealing $1,000 in raffle money from his school during a hearing Tuesday in Juneau Superior Court.

Hamey, 55, told Superior Judge Patricia Collins he stole the money in an attempt to embarrass school administrators after learning he would be replaced as girls basketball coach at Juneau-Douglas High School.

Hamey pleaded guilty to third-degree theft, which is a class A misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in jail and a $10,000 fine. But Collins ordered the conviction be set aside if Hamey completes an 18-month probation.

Hamey must perform 150 hours of community service and complete anger management, obsessive-compulsive and psychological counseling.

Hamey was a teacher for 32 years who retired in 2000 due to debilitating diabetes and arthritis. He had coached boys basketball for 22 years and continued to coach the girls team after retirement.

When Hamey learned in November that he would be replaced as girls basketball coach, he stole raffle money improperly stored in the athletic director's office. The money was later returned anonymously along with a note that claimed it was being returned by the parent of a student who had taken the money.

In court, Hamey apologized for his actions and said he had placed too much of his self-worth on coaching.

''I take full responsibility for my actions and I am disgusted by them and embarrassed by them. ... I wanted to make (school administrators) look stupid and embarrass them,'' Hamey said.

District Attorney Rick Svobodny said Hamey had a distinguished career in the district but violated the people who trusted him.

Judge Collins noted that Hamey has taken steps to rehabilitate himself and showed remorse during testimony.

''There's nothing this court could do to you for punishment that quite frankly you haven't already done to yourself,'' Collins told Hamey.

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