A Silsbee woman and former vice president of Silsbee High School’s Operation Graduation is facing serious accusations that she mishandled thousands in Operation Graduation money.
But an Examiner investigation has revealed this isn’t the first time Michelle Gore Quave, 40, has been under the law’s microscope for financial-related crimes.
According to a criminal background search, Quave has been charged with at least three other financial crimes, including two charges of theft by check to which she pleaded guilty, one involving more than $1,000 in restitution.
But perhaps the most serious prior charge is that of identity theft, a charge Quave was arrested on in March 2013, some six months before thousands in Operation Graduation funds came up missing.
“There are a lot of people on social media standing up for this woman, saying how good she is and she’d never do something like that,” said the plaintiff in Quave’s identity theft case, who declined to be identified. “I believe she would because she stole my wife’s identity.”
The man said he didn’t know Quave was using his wife’s identity until they tried to purchase a home.
“It was about this time last year,” he said. “My wife got in touch with Bank of America and found out this woman had applied for loans in our name and everything.”
The source said Quave also took out a $1,200 credit card “that was maxed out in no time.” A probable cause affidavit obtained by The Examiner confirmed the man’s accusations. According to the affidavit, Quave admitted to obtaining the card fraudulently, telling police that money had been tight and she got the card in the plaintiff’s name to use for more recreational purposes.
“I would hate to see this woman get away with this because I’ve seen what kind of person she is,” the source said.
Silsbee Police Chief Mark Davis confirmed that Quave now has two financial crime charges pending in Hardin County: fraudulent use of identifying information and misapplication of fiduciary property. Both are felonies.
“She is under indictment,” Davis said. “She was handled by our agency in the last year for a fraudulent use of identifying information, which is a fancy word for identity theft: using someone else’s information to establish credit and then reaped the rewards from it. We did work that case. She was arrested. The case was sent to the district attorney as a felony for prosecution. The DA of Hardin County did accept the case and she was indicted several months ago.”
Quave is set to make a plea in the case Jan. 22, according to the Hardin County Clerk’s office.
But Quave might have to make another plea, this time for misapplication of fiduciary property as it relates to Project Graduation, a program in which organized, adult-supervised and alcohol-free activities are offered as part of a post-graduation party.
According to a probable cause affidavit obtained by The Examiner, Silsbee police first became aware of the possible theft Oct. 29. After interviewing several operation graduation board members and reviewing their logbooks, police determined between $3,000 and $4,600 was missing from a gun raffle fundraiser.
As the vice president of Operation Graduation who was overseeing the fundraising raffle, Quave “was given 2,000 raffle tickets to distribute to potential sellers and it was her job to distribute and collect the sold and unsold raffle tickets along with the money for the purchased tickets,” the affidavit said.
The raffle tickets were $5 a piece or $4 if they were purchased “as a whole book,” according to affidavit.
But when it came time to turn in the raffle tickets, Quave allegedly turned in only 1,457 tickets and thousands of dollars were missing from their sale.
“The projected earning outcome for the 1,457 sold raffle tickets collected by Quave should have earned between approximately $5,800 and $7,300. Upon reviewing the deposit records concerning this fundraiser, it was discovered that Michelle had only accounted for $2,685 of this amount of money,” the affidavit said.
The Silsbee operation graduation board pressed Quave as to why there was a notable shortage of money, but according to the affidavit, Quave refused to cooperate and also refused to give the board her raffle logbook used to keep track of ticket sales and collections.
Chief Mark Davis said Quave was uncooperative with his team of investigators as well, adding Quave’s history of financial related crime charges are undeniable.
“It does tend to show a pattern of somebody’s behavior,” he said.
As he reflects back on Quave’s affect on his own life as he and his wife try to repair their credit, the unnamed plaintiff in Quave’s identity theft case said it takes a special kind of criminal to steal from the children of Silsbee.
“I don’t know how she could steal from kids,” the source said. “That’s pretty pathetic.”