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Tag Archive | "Cedar Springs Youth Football League"

Prosecution moves ahead on football embezzlement case


By Judy Reed

The Kent County Prosecutor’s Office is moving ahead with charges of embezzlement against the former treasurer of the Cedar Springs Youth Football League, and dropping charges against the former president.

Heather Marie Vaughn, treasurer of the 2017 board, and James Michael Crouch, former president of the 2017 board, were both charged in July 2018 with embezzlement of $1,000 but less than $20,000, which is a 10-year felony. 

The CSYFL contacted the police in March 2018, after they found they had $12,000 missing, and $6,800 in unpaid invoices. They reported that about $7,000 of the missing funds was money they had saved to buy new jerseys for the kids. 

Vaughn and Crouch were not being charged as co-defendants, as they allegedly had each taken money at different times, unknown to the other. 

Last week, the Post reported in an online article that according to police, Crouch had agreed to pay restitution in return for the charges being dropped, and in return for his testimony against Vaughn, if needed. Both he and his lawyer denied there was any deal. 

Crouch’s lawyer, Kurt Richardson, sent us this email. “Our client, Mr. Crouch, was charged with felony embezzlement, but all charges have been dismissed by the Kent County prosecutor’s office. There has been no admission of guilt or any conviction. Any implication that our client embezzled any money is simply not accurate, nor has it been proven or established in any way. Furthermore, any implication that our client was a conspirator, co-defendant, or participated in any criminal activity with Ms. Vaughn is also inaccurate.”

Assistant Prosecutor Rachel Wustman said that the bottom line is that there was not enough evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Crouch was guilty. “We decided not to go forward because of insufficient evidence. We looked at the two cases and decided to go forward with Heather Vaughn,” she explained. She added that Crouch could be called to testify, just like any other member of the board could.

Regardless of whether a deal was made or not, it’s still a fact that two money orders totaling $1,405 were paid to the Cedar Springs Youth Football League last week Monday on behalf of Crouch. This was verified to the Post by both police and the prosecutor’s office. The Post sent an email to Mr. Richardson a week ago and asked if he or Mr. Crouch would like to give a comment on the money he paid to the league, but we did not receive a response.

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Two charged in youth football embezzlement


By Judy Reed

Photo by April Victorson

Two former officers on the 2017 Cedar Springs Youth Football League board were arraigned this week on charges of embezzlement in 63rd District Court. 

According to Det. Mike Tanis, with the Kent County Sheriff Department, past president James Michael Crouch and former treasurer Heather Marie Vaughn were both charged with embezzlement of $1,000 or more but less than $20,000 from a non-profit or charitable organization, which is a 10-year felony.

The CSYFL contacted the police in March, after they found they had $12,000 missing, and $6,800 in unpaid invoices. About $7,000 of the missing funds was money they had saved to buy new jerseys for the kids. 

There were only two board members responsible for the money during the 2017 year—Vaughn and Crouch.

As the investigation proceeded, it was discovered that the two board members each took money from the league at different times. The missing money was never deposited into the league’s bank account.

The current board has since been doing fundraising to make up some of the shortfall. If you would like to donate, you can do it online by visiting https://cedarspringsyouthfootball.sportngin.com/register/form/058188639.

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Police investigate embezzlement from youth football 


The Cedar Springs Youth Football League needs the community’s help to stay afloat after it was discovered funds were embezzled from the group. Photo by April Victorson.

By Judy Reed

When the Cedar Springs Youth Football League board met in January and heard what their balance was, they knew something was very wrong. A lot of money was missing—including the $7,000 they had saved over the past two years to be able to buy new jerseys with this season.

The board began digging into bank and financial statements to try to piece together what happened. They also began getting invoices and collection calls from their equipment supplier. What they found was that they had $10,000 missing and $6,800 in unpaid invoices.

“It was a huge double whammy for us,” said trustee Amy Gillette.

And the only two board members that had previously had access to the money or bank account are no longer on the board.

According to Detective Mike Tanis, with the Kent County Sheriff’s Office, they received the case on March 16. “We think it was two different people skimming the funds,” he said. “Each didn’t know the other was doing it.” He is working to bring charges against the people he believes is involved, possibly by the end of this month. He confirmed the two suspects are no longer on the board, and that the members of the current board were not involved. 

“We are working closely with the Kent County Sheriff Department to bring justice and answers about the embezzlement of our program to our football players, families, and community,” the league said in a letter on page 5. They apologized that it happened, and noted that they are implementing an embezzlement-proof system going forward.

In the meantime, the league could use the community’s help to get the season off the ground. Gillette said that the registration fees should cover what they need to run the program this year, but grades 3-6 will have to wear the old jerseys they were trying to replace. She said the most urgent need is the unpaid invoices from 2017 equipment sales ($6,800). They also suffered from the vandalism that hit Skinner Field earlier this year, but she said Skinner Field was going to try to cover that cost. 

One way you can help is by attending a fundraising event they are holding on July 14 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Skinner Field. There will be a dunk tank, kids games, bake sale, plant sale, can drive, gift basket raffles, spirit wear, and concessions. Tickets will be used for all events, and are two for $1.00. 

They will also be holding some can drives. From July 8-13, you can drop them off at Family Farm & Home from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. On July 14, drop them off at Skinner Field from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. On July 15, drop off at Family Farm & Home, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Other ways to help include volunteering, and personal and corporate sponsorships. 

Please call Amy Gillette at 616-915-5509 if  you’d like to help in any way.

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