Milwaukee police detectives want to comb through the bank records of a local dance coach to determine whether she took money that was meant for a team trip and used it for personal benefit, court records show.
According to the search warrant affidavit filed in Milwaukee County Circuit Court and obtained by WISN 12 News, 10 women asked police to investigate what happened to the funds.
The affidavit said between Sept. 24 and Nov. 16, the coach collected $4,139 in cash and digital payments from parents for a dance competition in Nashville.
One of the parents, Brittany Tate, said she and others had given in excess of $6,000 to the coach since the summer to pay for costumes, travel, lodging and other expenses. Two days before the Nashville competition, Tate said, officials canceled the event.
Tate said she and the other mothers still wanted to take the girls on the Nashville trip since they had already paid for an Airbnb. Once they got there, she said, they realized the Airbnb was never booked.
“Nobody ever came, so we contacted customer service ourselves, and they told us that there were two unsuccessful payments that were made for the Airbnb,” she said.
Tate also said when she contacted the coach, who did not go on the trip, the coach said the arrangement had been booked but could not provide proof.
“We had to tell the girls, and they were just devastated,” Tate said. “Every girl.”
Tate, along with Coretta Robinson and other parents pooled money from their pockets to make other living arrangements for the girls.
“I thought maybe the Airbnb wasn’t credible,” Robinson said. “I never wanted to believe that it was the coach, but then reality sunk in once she started avoiding us.”
Robinson said after that, she could only reach the coach via text messaging, which Robinson said was unusual.
According to the affidavit, the coach, who WISN 12 News is not identifying by name because she has not been charged with a crime, sent an electronic copy of her October 2018 bank statement to a mother to convince parents the coach “had not misspent the payments.”
WISN 12 News tried to contact the coach by visiting two addresses linked to the woman in the affidavit but was told she did not live at one of the locations. There was no answer at the other. Two phone numbers found on the dance team’s social media accounts were disconnected.
WISN 12 News was able to obtain a current cellphone number for the coach and left a voicemail. Later Thursday, the coach responded in a text message.
“I am currently at work. I will return your call regarding this matter. Or I can have my attorney give you a call as well,” the message read.
Neither the coach nor her lawyer responded by the time this story was published.
When asked if there was any explanation the coach could offer to make parents feel better about how the situation unfolded, Tate replied: “An explanation is all that we ever asked for. We’re all human. People make mistakes, you know, but $6,000, and you have nothing to say about that, that’s where it becomes a problem.”
Although the court found probable cause to obtain the coach’s bank records to find any evidence of theft, no criminal charges have been filed.
Tate and the other moms said they want a refund of what they paid but have not gotten their money back or received an explanation of what happened to the funds.
They have since started their own dance team with all but two girls from the original team, Tate said.