A Turf writer from Austin, Texas, faces felony charges for allegedly forging nearly $22,376 in checks on a Racetrack Chaplaincy of America account.

Steve Habel, 40, was arrested Dec. 6 and booked into the Bexar County Jail. He was charged with taking checks from the chaplaincy office at Retama Park and cashing them. Habel was released Dec. 11, and his case is being investigated by the Selma Police Department. He could not be reached for comment.

The missing cash represents about a third of the chaplaincy's total 2001 budget and was earmarked to build shelters over picnic areas that serve Retama Park dormitories, according to chaplain Mike Bingaman.

"It is really unfortunate," Bingaman said. "This effects anyone who has ever had an involvement in fundraising for the chaplaincy."
Bingaman said he has spent a lot of time dealing with banks, Retama Park, and law enforcement officers. "We hope not to totally take a bath," he said.

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