A woman charged with embezzling funds from a youth football association pleaded guilty to one count of felony embezzlement in Fairfax County Circuit Court on December 28.

Nicolette Coleman-Jacobs of Ashburn was arrested in 2019 and charged with six felony counts of embezzlement, uttering and forgery in connection with allegations that she misused funds from McLean Youth Football. The dollar amount was not specified but estimated to be in the tens of thousands. 

Coleman-Jacobs previously served on the board of McLean Youth Football. Her husband, the organization’s former president, was not formally accused of wrongdoing. 

According to court records, Coleman-Jacobs was ordered to pay $5,000 in restitution and was offered a deferred disposition as part of her plea deal with prosecutors, meaning that a judge did not formally enter a finding of guilt. With two years of good behavior and payment of the restitution, her other charges will be dismissed, and a felony embezzlement charge will be reduced to a misdemeanor with an agreed one-month jail sentence.

Coleman-Jacobs did not respond to requests for comment. Phone calls to her attorney went unanswered. 

Coleman-Jacobs came under investigation in 2016 after community residents and other board members became suspicious of unaccountable transactions and dubious fundraising efforts. She was reported to police by fellow board member Matthew Barakat. 

“The smoking gun to me was there were hundreds of dollars spent at the Hope [Advanced Veterinary] Center in Vienna, an animal hospital,” Barakat said. He stated that he scrolled back through years of Facebook posts to find that Coleman-Jacobs was posting updates about treatments for her dog on dates that matched with transactions made with youth football funds.

Coleman-Jacobs used club funds for other transactions, prosecutors said. Alongside care for her pet, she was also billing meals, spa treatments and other personal expenses.

McLean Youth Football fielded more than 20 teams at the time of the embezzlement scheme. After it came to light, the association was dissolved in spring 2016. 

A mix of legal concerns and desire for a fresh start prompted community members to create a new association called McLean-Great Falls Football, which was formed in summer 2016.

Barakat, who had been involved with McLean Youth Football since 2009 and joined its board around 2013, said that the club’s disbandment was a blow to a pillar of the community that had a decades-long run.

“Parents would show me pictures of themselves playing youth football. It went back decades and decades. There was a real tradition with that program,” Barakat said. “One of the things that was lost was decades of that tradition and generations of families that played for them.”

Barakat remarked that he was grateful police investigated the embezzlement, though he was somewhat dismayed by the result. 

“It’s a tolerable outcome,” Barakat said. “The restitution does not nearly match what she stole. The jail time associated with this is something but it’s minimal. While we’re grateful that she was prosecuted and faced justice, I think a lot of us wish the punishment was a little more severe.” 

Despite the difficulties of the case, he highlighted how the community rose to the challenge in the wake of the original club’s collapse. 

“The positive is how the community came together to provide the opportunity for kids to play,” Barakat said. “The new club is providing a good service to the kids, and the community really rallied to make sure those opportunities weren’t thrown away.”

The new club has been off to a strong start since and is now home to seven teams, ranging from Anklebiters to 155-pound weight classes. 

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