A New Jersey man has filed a lawsuit against board members of a local youth football program, claiming organizers misappropriated funds and regularly drank and used cannabis around the players.
In light of the lawsuit filed by Charles Foulke III, a prominent businessman in Voorhees Township, the Easter JR Vikings program is now suspended as the council members and the organization fight the charges against them.
In documents filed with the court, Foulke states that his sons have taken part in JR Vikings Eastern football and cheerleading programs for over 18 years. In the lawsuit Foulke accuses several board members of embezzling $100,000, failing to file tax returns and celebrating with alcohol and marijuana in front of the kids.
“The defendants (have) unfairly used the EJV’s operation and resources as an adult playground,” says the lawsuit, filed with the State Superior Court in Camden County.
A board member listed in the complaint told NJ Advance Media that while small amounts of alcohol were occasionally consumed at the end of the day or after games, nothing inappropriate occurred in front for the kids.
“I worked 12-hour shifts at times on the concession stand,” said Danielle Fifthian, a former board member named in the lawsuit. “Afterwards, we had a few drinks or two, but nothing happened in front of the kids and nothing inappropriate happened."
In addition to allegations of misappropriation of funds and non-filing of taxes, the EJV program “failed to maintain its nonprofit status” with the government, the lawsuit claims. The lawsuit also accuses specific members of not publishing the meeting notice and of “hiding financial mismanagement and/or embezzlement."
“The EJV was created to enable children to help them develop good character traits such as good sportsmanship, loyalty, integrity and self-respect,” the lawsuit says, adding that the council members fell short of the goals.
The lawsuit claims that Foulke lent money to the program for the purchase of equipment and other items, as well as for repairs to the facilities and has since demanded the money be returned, but the board members refused to do so.
“(Foulke) is one particular individual, one person and one person, who is a major donor, who has a problem with the program,” Fifthian said. “He has him his reasons for doing it and they have nothing to do with the organization.”
On March 4, a New Jersey Superior Court judge reviewed Foulke's case and appointed a neutral "judicial trustee" to continue running the EJV program. However, some members of the Vorhees Township Council obstructed the operations and made it impossible for the program to continue, according to court documents.
In a federal lawsuit filed on April 20, on behalf of the EVJ, Foulke's lawyer claims that EVJ funds and assets were again embezzled following the appointment of a bankruptcy trustee.
The lawsuit also alleges that the township has not approved a permit for EVJ to use its home field for tackle football and cheering, something that in the past has been routine. Failure to issue the field use permit has caused “irreparable damage” to the EJV program “as the actor cannot carry out his business in the ordinary course and start registering children to participate in flag football,” the federal lawsuit says.
Fifthian defended the township, saying council members are reluctant to approve permits on the pitch until council members return to their posts, make decisions and run the football schedule. Fifthian called the bankruptcy trustee “a friend” of Foulke.
The federal lawsuit asks a judge to order the city to approve the field permit for June and July and to award compensatory and punitive damages to the EVJ program.