Many community sports clubs and other groups couldn’t exist without the efforts of neighbors who volunteer to organize activities and serve as officers.
That equation gets turned upside-down — with the money shaken right out of its pockets — when one of those volunteers steals from the group.
Beginning Sept. 12, the offices of the Montgomery County Controller and the District Attorney will hold workshops on “Preventing Fraud in Youth Sports Organizations.”
The idea for them came from Controller Stewart<NO1>cq<NO> J. Greenleaf Jr. This summer, he got a firsthand look at a community sports club when his son began playing T-ball.
Greenleaf realized “there’s a lot of money floating around” these clubs as parents and others pay fees and donate money for operational costs.
The controller also took note of local criminal cases involving volunteers who stole from their groups, including one last month.
In July, Michael H. Hrouda, of North Hills, was charged with theft and other offenses for allegedly stealing $40,000 from two youth athletic groups while he served as their treasurer.
“It’s just that you trust them,” said Montgomery County Assistant District Attorney Jeremy Abidiwan-Lupo of volunteers. “They’re your neighbors, they’re your friends.”
Abidiwan-Lupo is the prosecutor in the Hrouda case.
Volunteers can be honest and earnest about wanting to help. That doesn’t mean they know how to keep books and avert wrongdoing.
Not all groups “have the resources and understanding of how to structure their finances to make sure fraud doesn’t happen,” Greenleaf said.
The one-hour workshops will teach simple ways — for example, requiring two signatures on every check and separating financial duties — to avert fraud.
Representatives from the two county offices also will give tips, according to an information sheet, on “how to legally fundraise for your organization” and identifying financial weaknesses in your operation.
The presentations are open to Montgomery County youth sports organizations and their volunteers. If interested in attending one, call Daren Miller at 610-278-3072 or e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The workshop schedule is:
- Sept. 12, 6:30 p.m., at the Upper Dublin Township Building, 801 Loch Alsh Ave. in Fort Washington;
- Sept. 18, 2013, 6:30 p.m., at the Upper Merion Township Building, 175 West Valley Forge Road in King of Prussia;
- Sept. 25, 6:30 p.m., at the Lower Salford Township Building, 379 Main Street in Harleysville.