The Eastside High School head football coach who was charged with theft by taking in a case of alleged mortgage fraud has had all the charges against him dropped.
Rick Hurst turned himself in to DeKalb County authorities Nov. 25 on felony charges of theft by taking. Prosecutors alleged that Hurst, along with five others, fraudulently received more than $255,000 in late 2004 and early 2005 from Argent Mortgage Company, People’s Choice Home Loan, Argent Mortgage Company again and Consumer Mortgage Services after closing on four properties — one located in Decatur, one in Tucker and two in Lilburn.
Hurst said at the time, "I thought I was getting into a business venture that was dealing with real estate, and instead I was supplying my name and my credit to an individual that was taking advantage of it."
According to DeKalb County District Attorney Office’s Public Information Officer Jada Hudspeth, while preparing for trial, it became evident after several interviews with Hurst and other witnesses, "he was not knowingly a part of or a participant in this activity. As a result the state did not find significant evidence of criminal intent."
The case against him was dropped April 22.
Hurst said that it was "a scary issue," adding, "I had never been in trouble with the law in my life. It was a very humbling experience to say the least, and one I wasn’t proud of, but deep down I knew that I wasn’t guilty of doing anything wrong."
Hurst also said that he was able to stay calm also because of the tremendous support he and his family received from members of the community.
"All the people that wrote letters and did stuff for me, I can’t name all of them, some of them I didn’t even know, but I cannot tell you how much I appreciated all of that support."
Added in that group of supporters are EHS Principal Robert Daria and Hurst’s players and their parents.
"All I can say is that I work in a great place," he said, adding that the situation was embarrassing, but that his players and parents were always supportive of him.
"The hardest part of all of this was standing in front of my players and parents and telling them what was going on," he said. "I preach every day about doing things the right way and here I am being charged with theft by taking. But they [players] were my front line and they were the number one people in my corner."
According to Hudspeth, Hurst may still be called as a witness in the case.