Lee's Summit youth softball coach sued by former team

He's accused of stealing over $4,000 in team money

LEE'S SUMMIT, Mo. - A metro youth softball coach is being sued for alleged embezzlement by one of his former teams in Lee’s Summit.

Gary Martin was a volunteer coach for the KC Cool Cats softball club for two years. However, the nonprofit consisting of seven teams is now taking him to small claims court, alleging the former coach stole $4,419.54 from his own team in 2016

"That team raised over five thousand dollars and our club accountant realized that a few months after that none of that money was showing up in their team account,” said Alan Wilds, KC Cool Cats club president.

Roughly $5,000 was raised for the 14-and-under team following a poker tournament last year. That money was supposed to pay for all of the team’s primary expenses, including jerseys and tournament fees.

"It never showed up,” said Wilds, whose own two daughters play for the club.  "Uniforms that were never purchased. They had tournaments that they had paid for that were canceled."

Wilds and Martin signed a restitution agreement last fall, with Martin agreeing to pay back the $4,419.54 through monthly installments. However, not one payment was made.

"I don't know what to call it. Did I mess up? Probably,” said Martin during a phone interview with 41 Action News Thursday afternoon.

"At the end of the day I just want this to be fixed and be done,” he said.

Martin said he used his own “personal account” to pay for team expenses. When asked if he used the team’s fundraising money to pay himself back, he said, "In a roundabout way, yes, kind of."

The youth coach believes that the money mismanagement had no effect on the players.

"All the girls played everything they were supposed to play with the exception of three tournaments. One was rained out, one was out of town - we had a player with an injury and couldn't fulfill the obligation to go -- we didn't have enough players. And then one of the tournaments I just missed the deadline on."

However, Martin also admitted that he plans to pay back the $4,419.54 in its entirety.

"Oh totally. Yeah,” said Martin after being asked if he would pay back the money.

Martin is at least the third local youth softball coach to be accused of embezzling team money within the last year.

Ron Gamm Jr. disbanded a Johnson County 16-U team last year after the team allegedly raised $23,000. And Brett Vilott, a Johnson County man, was fired by his employer, Phenom Baseball USA, in April after the organization admitted the coach stole thousands of dollars from families.

Wilds is going to start implementing more checks and balances with his club and wants to encourage other parents in youth sports to do the same.

“My advice would be to ask lots of questions and do not be afraid to ask the coach or the team accountant or team manager for weekly statements or even monthly statements of where your fees and fundraiser money is going to,” he said. “They have to provide that to you, especially if you're a nonprofit organization."

Martin’s next date in small claims court against his former team is set for March 15.

Martin was also a coach for a separate local youth softball organization. However, that organization told 41 Action News Martin resigned as of Thursday afternoon.

 

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Josh Helmuth can be reached at josh.helmuth@kshb.com

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