By John Hummer
Former Napoleon basketball coach Jeremy File turned himself in last Monday as a result of three felonies and six misdemeanors charged against him; according to Napoleon Township police chief Duaine Pittman.
His preliminary exam is set for Wednesday, May 2 in front of Judge Joseph Filip. His personal recognizance bond was set at $5,000.
File coached the Napoleon High School varsity basketball team for the entire 2016-17 basketball season and resigned right before the start of the 2017-18 season under suspicious circumstances, Pittman said. Brent Tuthill, an assistant at the time, took over the team for this past season.
The felony counts include using a computer to commit a crime, financial transaction device stealing and retaining without consent, and financial transaction device-illegal seizure. Using a computer to commit a crime is a seven-year felony. The second and third counts are four-year felonies.
“It took a while to put the case together because credit card companies are not timely in getting us the information we need,” Pittman said. “It took a little longer than I had hoped to get the warrants and get them signed.”
Counts 4-9 are larceny by conversion, over $200 but under $1,000 that include basketball camps and lessons File charged for and didn’t produce.
Pittman said he conducted a couple search warrants on File’s bank accounts and the LAB’s Square (a phone/tablet credit card swiping system) account and presented the information and findings to the county prosecutor.
Search warrants were signed Feb. 21. Pittman had learned that File was either in Phoenix, Ariz. or somewhere in California. He made several attempts to contact File but could not reach him and File did not return his calls. He also tried to contact a friend of File’s he knew was in touch with him, but that attempt failed as well.
Pittman gave him three weeks to turn himself in or he would be extradited back to Michigan if he had any police contact out west. File didn’t turn himself in during that three-week period.
“I was preparing to contact the police in Phoenix, Ariz., but he showed up here over the weekend and turned himself in Monday morning.”
Pittman said police were contacted in mid-November with numerous complaints from people in and around Napoleon who had paid File money for basketball camp, lessons, or some type of training, and that he hadn’t delivered the services promised. File ran a camp called LAB or “Life After Basketball” and used Napoleon High School and Napoleon Middle School gymnasiums.
“Many of the people had heard he left town,” Pittman said. “He was planning on leaving town, and making efforts to leave town, and he was still collecting money from these people even though he knew he wasn’t going to be here to provide the lessons. He didn’t refund the money.”
One woman had posted a note on Facebook that warned others that she was out $3,800 from lessons she signed her student-athlete up for with File that was never done. Pittman said the woman had paid for around 10 lessons with File at $40 per lesson, but just received one lesson before he left town.The woman had used a credit card to pay for the lessons and was surprised to see she was charged for all 10 lessons.
The woman filed a complaint with her credit card company and subsequently a police report as directed by the company.
“That was a non-authorized charge against her credit card, so that was credit card fraud,” Pittman said. Pittman said File used the “Square” credit card system where cards could be run on his phone or tablet.
Two credit card companies are victims of the case since they had to return money to the woman.
In addition, NHS athletic director Scott Ashe had notified Pittman that some equipment came up missing that he believed File took with him. The equipment included several new basketballs. Ashe requested the basketballs back, and File sent some back, but they were not the new basketballs that were taken, but rather older, more worn out balls. Pittman said Napoleon Schools had to buy 20 more new basketballs to start the season at $60 a ball.Pittman said that other items such as practice jerseys came up missing as well.
“That information is included in my police report, but we haven’t been able to prove that he took those items,” Pittman said. “We weren’t able to charge him with that.”
Pittman said that the Napoleon community had been looking forward to having File as the basketball coach when he was hired.
“Napoleon had welcomed him with open arms and was excited to have him here, and from all accounts, he was a pretty good basketball coach,” Pittman said. “Then he turned around and pulled this. That speaks more to his character than the rest of it.”