Natrona County School District Apparently Returns Much Of Cercy Donation
K2 Radio News has learned the Natrona County School District apparently has returned much of the $500,000 donated for scoreboards last year by Casper businessman Tony Cercy, who is now charged with sexual assault.
The money was returned about a month ago to a fundraising group for Natrona County High School called the NCHS Millennium Fund, Inc., to which Cercy made the donation, according to district financial records.
This also comes at a time when school budgets are tight due to a shortfall in state funding.
K2Radio also has learned from anonymous sources that the transfer has occurred.
Several school officials including board trustee Dana Howie said the district's attorney advised them they cannot comment on the matter.
School district attorney Kathleen Dixon did not return calls seeking comment.
Cercy did not return a call seeking comment.
In December, he and his wife, Caryl, both 1980 NCHS graduates, announced the $500,000 gift for scoreboards through the NCHS Millenium Fund. The high school has erected one of them at the north end of the Dick Cheney Alumni Field near West Collins Drive.
The NCHS Millennium Fund, Inc., is a nonprofit organization formed in 2001 that raised money for the artificial turf at the football stadium. It continues to raise money for construction needs not funded by the district, according to the high school's boosters Facebook page.
But, the NCHS Booster Club has no connection to the donation.
According to 501c3lookup.org, the fund as of June 2016 had an income of $8,428 and assets of $59,093.
John Bush, president of the fund's three-member board of directors, did not return calls seeking comment.
The gift to the NCHS Millennium Fund was among several major contributions Cercy, former owner of Power Service, Inc., has made in the Casper community including the Casper Family YMCA and $1 million to the David Street Station downtown.
The Cercy family also donated $1 million to the University of Wyoming through the UW Foundation to UW Athletics, university spokesman Chad Baldwin said in an email. The gift was designated for a weight room at the High Altitude Performance Center.
But the Cercy generosity to the high school apparently came into question starting Friday, July 28, when Natrona County Sheriff's deputies arrested him on sexual assault charges allegedly involving a young woman at a residence at Alcova Lake on the weekend of June 24-25.
The following Monday, he heard the three counts against him in Natrona County Circuit Court: One count of first-degree sexual assault, one count of second-degree sexual assault, and one count of sexual contact "without inflicting sexual intrusion and without causing serious bodily injury."
On Aug. 17, Cercy was bound over for trial in Natrona County District Court after his preliminary hearing. His arraignment is scheduled for Wednesday. The trial is scheduled to begin in January. If convicted of all counts, he faces between seven and 85 years of imprisonment. He remains free on a $100,000 cash bond.
On Sept. 11, the Natrona County School District board of trustees held its bimonthly meeting.
In a report to the board, Superintendent Steve Hopkins said he recommended the trustees approve paying the bills from Aug. 28 through Sept. 1, and Sept. 5 through 8 unless a board member called or emailed with a question.
The trustees approved the payment of the bills without discussion.
In the summary check listing for the week of Aug. 28-Sept. 1, the school district cut one check to the NCHS Millennium Fund for $6,099 and cut another check to the fund for $281,328.
District spokeswoman Tanya Southerland said in an email that the $6,099 figure was from gate receipts (ticket sales) from the high school's athletics and activities programs for the fall 2016 and spring 2017 seasons.
The $281,328 figure came from the NCHS Millennium Fund that paid for the scoreboard. The district reimbursed the fund from construction dollars, according to the email from Southerland.
She did not return follow-up calls to explain why the school district would transfer construction money to an organization created to raise money for the Natrona County High School.
It is unknown whether Cercy had donated the remaining $220,000 of the half-million gift to the NCHS Millennium Fund. and whether the fund has returned the $281,328 to Cercy.
Unlike the Natrona County School District's apparent return of much of the Cercy gift, UW spokesman Chad Baldwin said in an email the university is monitoring the situation. "The university and the Foundation are aware of the charges against Mr. Cercy, but at this time we are not making any judgments or decisions related to the situation."