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Arrest made in connection with theft of money from Ponder High booster club account

This story has been updated to include information from the arrest affidavit.

A former Ponder resident was arrested Thursday on a felony theft charge after police said she pocketed about $21,000 from the Ponder Fine Arts Booster Club bank account between August 2014 and December 2015, according to an arrest affidavit.

Bronwyn WrightCourtesy photo
Bronwyn Wright
Courtesy photo

Bronwyn Lenore Wright, the club's 44-year-old former president, was taken to Denton County Jail on a charge of theft of property between $20,000 and $100,000, which is a third-degree felony. Ponder police Detective Toby Crow, who had been investigating the case since January 2016, obtained a warrant for Wright's arrest two weeks ago.

Wise County Sheriff's deputies took her into custody at her home in an unincorporated area in Wise County near Rhome. Crow and Ponder Police Chief Robert Genova drove Wright to Denton County Jail on Thursday evening.

"It got to a point where we finally quit talking about it and did something about it," Crow said.

According to a Ponder police arrest affidavit, club members first learned money was missing from the club's account at Bank of the West in December 2015. A bank employee told a former club official that the account had been overdrawn. When the bank employee and the former club official tried to contact Wright, the club's president at the time, they were unsuccessful, the affidavit said.

Ponder police Detective Toby Crow escorts Bronwyn Wright into Denton County Jail on Thursday. Wright is accused of stealing about $21,000 from the Ponder Band Booster Club bank account last year.Jeff Woo/DRC
Ponder police Detective Toby Crow escorts Bronwyn Wright into Denton County Jail on Thursday. Wright is accused of stealing about $21,000 from the Ponder Band Booster Club bank account last year.
Jeff Woo/DRC

The following month, club officials started closely scrutinizing ATM withdrawals and transactions from the account. They obtained all account statements from August 2014 to December 2015 and discovered that $21,685.36 was either unaccounted for or completely missing, the affidavit said.

Club officials later discovered Wright opened a second account at Bank of the West in October 2014 without their knowledge, the affidavit states. Bank records showed the secondary account had a total of $5,725 from deposits made in October and November of 2014. By January 2016, the secondary account contained $4.96, Crow said.

Wright, who club officials said had complete control over the club's finances from May 2014 to December 2015, made several cash withdrawals from the secondary account from October to December 2014, according to the affidavit.

She also made several transfers from the secondary account to the main account, and vice versa, Crow said.

"They had some sharp people there with the booster club that were able to pick up on that," said Crow, who got involved in the investigation after club officials started tracking the funds.

Wright made several cash withdrawals totaling $8,800 from the club's main account, the affidavit said. Bank records also showed multiple transactions at various stores and restaurants, including Wal-Mart, McDonald's, Sonic Drive-In, RaceTrac, QuickTrip and Spirit Halloween. Wright also opened an Amazon Prime account, according to the affidavit.

"There were no receipts or documentation to back up those charges," the affidavit said.

Aside from the missing funds, club officials discovered they were about $11,000 in debt because Wright did not pay bills, the affidavit states.

Officials decided to have an emergency meeting Jan. 8, 2016, and asked Wright to bring all financial records associated with the club's account. Wright said she couldn't attend the meeting. However, she did drive to Ponder that day to give club officials a bag filled with empty files, according to the affidavit.

Wright and her husband, Brian Wright, moved from Ponder to an unincorporated area in Wise County near Rhome in the summer of 2015, Crow said.

Bronwyn Wright formerly worked at Marky's Dry Cleaners on West University Drive in Denton from August 2015 to September 2016, the affidavit said.

The booster club has since reorganized and voted to rename the group from the Ponder Band Booster Club to the Ponder Fine Arts Booster Club, making it inclusive of the district's choir program. New officers have been named and have been following bylaws that most boosters were unaware of prior to the incident. The club also opened a new bank account, according to the affidavit.

After about 14 months investigating the case and tracking Wright's personal bank records, Crow said he's pleased to finally have some closure.

"I'm happy for the citizens of Ponder, and of course the band booster club ... they've been waiting for this for a long time," Crow said. "They want justice to be done and they want restitution."

JULIAN GILL can be reached at 940-566-6882.