By Jay Cook |
RUMSON – The nonprofit organization that raises funds for the Pop Warner and high school football programs in the borough and Fair Haven announced that money was stolen from its account, according to a statement sent to people involved in the local football community.
In the Aug. 3 email, the board of trustees of the RFH Touchdown Club, Inc. said they were “alerted to certain unauthorized use of the Club’s funds” and, along with their bank, “took protective action to prevent any further unauthorized activity.”
A “qualified independent professional” reviewed the financial accounts and the RFH Touchdown Club “is confident that it has identified the full scope of the unauthorized activity.”
“The Club is determined to maintain the community’s trust that it has earned over the years and is confident that the measures recently implemented will protect the financial integrity of the Club as it continues its mission,” the email continued.
The statement did not say if anyone was removed from the organization or how much money was taken but did say the Board of Trustees moved to install James Schaud as its new interim president moving forward.
Chris Swendeman, a spokesperson for the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office (MCPO), said his office is aware of the incident.
“Until whoever runs the foundation presses charges, we can’t get involved,” Swendeman told The Two River Times Monday. “At this time, there’s nothing for us to go after.”
Rumson Borough Police Chief Scott Paterson told The Two River Times there currently is no investigation by his department.
“Nobody has come forward,” Paterson said Tuesday. “Nobody’s claimed there’s been any kind of incident officially to us.”
As a 501(c)(3) organization, the RFH Touchdown Club has to file a 990 form annually to the Internal Revenue Service. An inspection of the most recent publicly available form from 2016 on charitynavigator.org showed the private foundation brought in $142,771 through fundraising efforts that year. After subtracting $92,729 for expenses from gaming and fundraising events, the organization had a net income of $50,495 in 2016.
Established in 2003, the RFH Touchdown Club hosts multiple highly attended events throughout the year to raise funds for the Pop Warner football programs in Rumson and Fair Haven, along with giving donations to Rumson-Fair Haven Regional High School (RFH) for football-specific activities and amenities.
Some of those events include an annual Kentucky Derby-themed party in May and the Ken Swain Bulldawg Golf Invitational in August. That golf outing, planned for Aug. 16 at the Rumson Country Club, is sold out.
In recent years, the organization has helped pay for new weight room equipment in the high school, top-of-the-line helmets, updated athletic locker rooms, shirts for RFH players and coaching staff, practice sleds, drone filming and training equipment. Funding for coaching clinics has been provided, as well, according to its website.
RFH superintendent Peter Righi declined to comment for this story.
Organizations that eclipse a $50,000 benchmark in gross receipts have to file 990 forms. Football booster clubs that support only the high school programs in Middletown South and Holmdel didn’t reach that figure and don’t have publicly available files online.
Swendeman, the MCPO spokesperson, said he recalled a similar case prosecuted earlier this year in Freehold. The treasurer of the youth Freehold Soccer League, Anthony Gallo, 57, was sentenced to six years in state prison for stealing over $400,000 from the organization between 2012 and 2016. Gallo wrote checks to himself and his company while also using league funds for ATM withdrawals and personal expenses.
In recent years, RFH has become one of the premiere public school powerhouses in New Jersey high school football. Although it’s a smaller Group III school – a designation which is based on school population – it’s been a constant at championship games. RFH has gone to five consecutive Group III sectional title games dating back to 2013 and won four in a row up to 2016. They were state champions in 2010, as well.
This article was first published in the August 16-23, 2018 print edition of The Two River Times.
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