Police investigate missing funds from youth sports group

By JAIME STUDD

Recorder News Staff

GLOVERSVILLE -- Gloversville police have launched an investigation into the financial accounts of one of Fulton County's largest youth athletic organizations.

According to Detective Michael Jory, officials from the Fulton United Soccer Club Recreational Soccer league filed a complaint several months ago alleging that funds appeared to be missing from league accounts.

Fulton United Soccer Club Recreational President Jim Yanno said a routine review of the league's finances revealed some monetary discrepancies.

Yanno declined to identify the individual suspected of misappropriating the funds or when the alleged theft occurred, but said it predated a drastic reorganization that was undertaken by the league's board of directors last fall.

"We're really trying to get the league a lot more organized. It's kind of fallen off over the past couple of years," Yanno said. "There were a lot of parents involved and as their kids grew up and moved on, their interest, as far as keeping the league going, has kind of faded. So, a group of us got together and got things reorganized."

Yanno said the league is operating under an entirely different leadership than it was when the money is believed to have been lost.

According to Jory, the investigation into the complaint remains ongoing. Jory said police are conducting a thorough review of all league accounts.

Jory said it is yet unclear exactly how much money is missing because it has been difficult to differentiate between the legitimate and fraudulent expenses.

Jory also declined to identify a suspect in the case or which position the person is believed to have held in the league.

Jory said he hopes to be able to complete the investigation soon, at which time more information will likely be revealed.

"We're hoping to have some more information soon, but soon in this line of work could be next week or next month," Jory said.

Should the investigation reveal that a theft of funds did in fact take place, Yanno said the league is prepared to move forward with criminal action.

"I think, certainly, we want to do the right thing in this situation and we're committed to being up front and honest and just making sure things are handled the way they should be," Yanno said.

Yanno also said he is eager to reach a resolution in the case because it would allow him to pursue a more open dialogue with league participants and the general public regarding the matter.

"We want to be up front and open with the public. It's a youth organization and the whole idea of the rec program is to just have an outlet for kids to have fun and this takes away from all that," said Yanno. "We plan on, in the near future, maybe after some of this gets resolved, to sit down and have an open session where people can come to the meeting and they can review our finances."

"It's a non-for-profit," he added. "We've got nothing to hide."

Fulton United Soccer Club-Recreational Soccer shares a portion of its name with the Fulton United Soccer Club-Travel Soccer, but the two are separate and distinct organizations.

In response to the investigation, Jon Caraco, co-president of the FUSC-Travel, released a statement recently clarifying the distinction.

"We would like the public to be aware there are two separate organizations with similar names and missions, however the organizations are completely independent of each other," Caraco wrote. "We are the Fulton United Soccer Club-Travel Soccer -- our official name with the IRS. We would like to formally state that we are an organization not affiliated with the Fulton United Soccer Club-Recreation Soccer.

"The two clubs, despite the similar names, do not overlap in any way," he added. "The clubs have separate Boards of Directors, separate mission statements and separate finances."