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Cheer coach guilty of gaming charges

December 30, 2008|By ERIN JULIUS

HAGERSTOWN -- A Washington County Circuit Court judge on Tuesday found a Hagerstown cheerleading coach guilty of six gambling-related charges.

Anna Lois Miles, founder and owner of the Hagerstown Heat All-Stars cheerleading club, was given a suspended jail sentence. She must pay $1,000 in fines and court costs.

"I'm just glad it's over," Miles said as she left the courtroom. She was quickly encircled by friends and supporters, some of whom offered hugs.

Miles, 35, founder of the Hagerstown Heat All-Stars cheerleading club, was charged with holding an illegal gambling event at the Boonsboro Fire Co. in February 2006 to repay a parent who had helped bail her out of jail the previous year, Deputy State's Attorney Joseph Michael said during an Oct. 21 hearing.

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Miles, who was convicted in 2004 for writing bad checks from the group's account, used $2,000 raised at the event to pay back a woman who helped bail her out of jail in December 2005.

"I am upset with the defendant," Washington County Circuit Judge W. Kennedy Boone III said before sentencing Miles Tuesday.

A condition of Miles' probation in a previous case had been that she not deal with finances in connection with any sort of extracurricular activity she had been involved with, Boone said. The judge reimposed that condition as part of Miles' three-year probation in this case.

Miles' record includes a 2004 conviction for writing bad checks from the Hagerstown Heat's account.

Miles, in this case, holds her business out as one of the many nonprofit organizations allowed to conduct tip jar games and Bingo, but she has taken advantage and profits off the fundraising, Michael said Friday before Miles was sentenced. Prosecution was meant to deter others from masquerading as nonprofits for fundraising purposes, Michael said.

When the prosecution first presented evidence against Miles in court, in October 2007, Michael and five witnesses portrayed her as having knowingly skirted state and county gaming laws by organizing the unlicensed bingo and tip-jar event on Feb. 17, 2006, ostensibly to benefit the cheerleading club.

Bingo and tip-jar events can legally be held only to benefit nonprofit and charitable organizations, Washington County Gaming Office Director James B. Hovis testified at the time. The Hagerstown Heat is a for-profit enterprise owned by Miles.

When the defense mounted its case Oct. 21, 2008, defense attorney Eric Andrews questioned the extent of Miles' involvement with the gambling event. Receipts and other documents from the event were signed by other people, not by Miles, he said. Andrews also asked why parents who sold chances for tip jars or the Boonsboro Fire Co., which ran the bingo, weren't prosecuted.

Most organizations use the money legitimately, Michael said in response.

Miles must again appear in court in the coming months to face a violation of probation triggered by this case.

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