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Star Tribune (Minneapolis, MN)
The former treasurer of the Coon Rapids High School hockey team's booster club allegedly stole more than $36,000 from the club over two years, putting some of the team's early season programs at risk, according to a police report filed by the club's president.
The treasurer, a 34-year-old woman from Anoka, used the club's debit card like it was her personal checking account, said Brian Knapp, president of the Redline Booster Club. He said she used it at gas stations, grocery stores and shops, and to withdraw thousands in cash from ATMs dating back to December 2016.
The booster club will try to raise money to recoup the money with fundraisers throughout the season, Knapp said.
"She cleaned us out," he said. "It's one of those things, too, where she's somebody who has been around us for years, as our kids played together. You have a lot of trust. Trust isn't enough."
An investigation is ongoing, but charges have not been filed, said Coon Rapids Police Capt. Jon Urquhart.
The theft won't jeopardize the season, Knapp said. The high school pays for ice time during the season and hires the coaches, but the booster club helps pay some of the costs of running the hockey program, including renting rinks for captain's practices before the start of the season and for summer training sessions.
The club also pays for lodging and buses so the team can play in an out-of-town tournament every year. The team had been planning a trip to Duluth for a tournament in mid-November.
The club typically operates on about $25,000 a year, Knapp said.
"We hope she'll be ordered to pay restitution, but we have to be realistic that that could take a long time," he said.
The first red flag that something was wrong came shortly after Knapp took over as president in 2016, he said.
The former treasurer was the sole keeper of the club's bank account. Nobody else had access to it or records of how money was being spent, Knapp said.
He said he thought it best to have a second set of eyes on the money and asked other board members if they wanted to volunteer to become co-treasurer.
When the club tried to get the treasurer to go to the bank to add a second name to the account, the excuses kept piling up, Knapp said.
"There was always a reason why she couldn't go, and it kept getting kicked down the road," he said.
Finally, in mid-July, Knapp went to the bank himself. After proving that he was president of the club, he was added to the account. He said he expected to find thousands of dollars in reserves, but instead discovered that the account was overdrawn.
"There were charges for makeup and at various retail outlets," he said. "She was spending it anywhere it could have been spent like it was her own personal account."
The club has since gone through spending records and found that $16,000 worth of bills have never been paid. "So really we were sitting in a $16,000 hole," Knapp said.
After Knapp froze the account and filed a police report, the club changed its leadership structure. It now has two co-treasurers and has given the president access to the bank account. All board members can view the club's finances online.
"If we had another set of eyes on it, this couldn't have happened," Knapp said. "From here on out that won't happen again."
Details on the club's fundraisers this fall are posted on the group's Facebook page.
Greg Stanley · 612-673-4882
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