A local public relations professional and former Valley View Schools employee who was accused of fraud can have criminal charges dismissed if she successfully completes a diversion program.
Holly Michael, 49, of Farmersville, is accused of creating a satirical GoFundMe account last year using the names of reputable, well-known people in the Germantown and Farmersville area without their knowledge, Montgomery County Prosecutor’s Office spokesman Greg Flannagan said.
The case was investigated by the consumer fraud unit of the prosecutor’s office, which approved felony charges of identity fraud and telecommunications fraud.
“With the agreement of law enforcement and the victims, the defendant was accepted into the diversion program, available for first-time, nonviolent offenders,” Flannagan said.
Michael released an emailed statement in response to the case:
“Through the diversion program, I accepted responsibility for the action I took, which included using an alias, ‘Sam Wilson,’ frequently used by multiple members of the community, to send a letter to the editor of The Germantown Press and set up a GoFundMe that collected no money and, as prosecutors confirmed, was not connected to any bank account. Any money that had been raised was to be donated to the Valley View Schools fund at the Dayton Foundation for use in school grounds improvements,” she said.
Construction is scheduled to begin Monday for Valley View’s new K-12 campus adjacent to the existing high school, according to the district’s website.
The GoFundMe page purported to raise money to place a bench in the name of Mike Kilroy at the site of the new school.
Kilroy, a business owner who died in December 2021, was a controversial figure who unsuccessfully ran for the school board and was opposed to the site for the new school building.
“Many of us in the community know Mike for his attacks on our local schools, the conspiracy theories he spread, and his failed attempts to join the Board of Education,” the GoFundMe said, adding that the memorial bench was “to celebrate how our community overcame this attack.”
No restitution is due because word quickly spread the GoFundMe page was not legitimate, the prosecutor’s office said.
As part of her diversion program, Michael must complete 40 hours of community service and refrain from committing any further criminal activity.
“The diversion officer handling her case will monitor her for one to three years. If she successfully completes the program, the charges against her will be dismissed,” Flannagan said.
Michael had a one-year contract to work part-time as the communications coordinator for the Valley View Local School District, according to her contact for the 2020-21 academic year. She started Aug. 10, 2020, and had a base pay of $30,000.
She informed the board of education in June 2021 that she would be resigning her position at the end of her contract.
“Thank you for the opportunity to grow our relationships with local media, build a new website, bring a consistent voice to social media and launch a new school logo,” she stated in her resignation email.
She did not provide a reason for her decision.
Michael also is a former president of the Dayton Area Chapter of the Public Relations Society of America and in 2016 received the Communicator of the Year award.
In 2018, she was featured at the national Women in Leadership Symposium.
At the time she was account director at Fahlgren Mortine Public Relations in Dayton. Her LinkedIn profile indicates she is an external communications manager at Medidata Solutions Creative. She also is founder of FarmHouse Communications and writer of the Bringing Home the Bacon blog.
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