Parents and Penticton minor hockey president at odds over financials

Parents in the Penticton Minor Hockey Association are not happy following the news that more than $300,000 is missing.

Parents in the Penticton Minor Hockey Association are not happy following the news that more than $300,000 is missing dating back to May 2010.

Cara Moog, who has three kids in the PMHA, said she is “totally unimpressed.”

“Shame on that board of directors,” said Moog,

PMHA issued a statement through its lawyer late last week stating that it had “fallen victim to a sophisticated embezzlement scheme” allegedly carried out by Sandy Elder, who handled the organization’s finances from 2001 to July 2013, when she died of cancer.

A forensic audit allegedly found evidence that $315,650 was “misappropriated” between May 2010 and April 2013 through altered cheques, falsified receipts and records, plus cash transactions for referee payments and concession revenue. PMHA president Bruce Judd said in an interview this week, “None of us were aware of this money going missing.”  He said the audit could not be made available to the Western News because of potential litigation against Elder’s estate. Judd suspected the financial problems when he started looking at the bank deposit book and there was no cash deposits.

“If I wouldn’t have taken it upon myself to do that, which it took me close to five to six months to do, it would have never been discovered,” he said.

He wanted to try to recover any assets and said this is why they couldn’t tell anybody.

“Have to get an auditor to stand up in court to state the facts,” he said.

Shelley Desroches, another parent, was relieved the situation is out in the open.

“Finally,” she said. “Finally. Something has happened. They can’t keep their heads in the sand anymore. They just have to be accountable. They can’t just think that, ‘Oh, it wasn’t us.’ This isn’t just the last three years. That’s all they audited. I believe it’s 100 per cent more.”

Desroches is confident more years haven’t been audited partly because of the cost. Judd said an audit wasn’t done further back because the books couldn’t be recovered.

“Her (Elder’s) husband (Mark) didn’t give them to me. Wouldn’t give them to me,” explained Judd.

Mark Elder could not be reached for comment.

Along with the missing money, Moog and Desroches are also not pleased with how the board responded to their questions about money in the past. Moog said the directors just “shrug off anything we ever asked at AGMs regarding the financials.”  Judd said financial questions directed to Elder were answered.

“It’s extremely frustrating,” Moog added. “We have paid rep fees and high fees for this and high fees for that because they say, ‘We don’t have money. We have lost money here, we have lost money there.’ Where is it? The rates haven’t gone up that much at the arenas.”

Moog also said financials are to be shown each month at meetings and that was not happening.

“If that’s not happening, maybe that’s why you couldn’t figure out how come you lost so much money,” she said. “If you were looking over your financials every single month, you would have noticed there is money missing.”

“It’s just a shame that nobody listened to their membership at AGMs,” said Desroches, adding that she feels there are good board members trying to do good things.

Desroches stressed the importance for members to attend meetings. The AGM is scheduled for May 21 at the Days Inn Riverside Conference Centre. Doors open at 6:30 p.m., meeting starts at 7 p.m.

“I think every single one of those (directors) should be fired or should be resigning,” said Moog.

Judd refuted the statements made by Moog and Desroches. He said it’s in PMHA’s constitution to make financial info available.

“We have to do that. It does happen,” said Judd, adding he has no idea why Moog and Desroches say differently. “We have to provide financial statements at the AGM for all members to go through and look at.”

When asked if he would resign, Judd said, “I didn’t do nothing wrong.”

“What did I do wrong? This is what they are going to push for,” said Judd, adding that he tried to retire three years ago but no one would step up to replace him. “I’m one of 13 directors. All the directors make the decisions. It isn’t Bruce Judd. My voice is a voice of one. Deep down now, I regret even opening it (the financials) up. Everybody is looking at fingering me like I’m the guy that stole the money.”

Judd said everything is corrected now and that, “it will never happen again in minor hockey in Penticton.”

PMHA is reducing fees next year and the association’s lawyer, Erik Lund, explained why.

“The theft was causing PMHA’s operating expenses to appear to be approximately $100,000 more than they actually should have been,” he wrote in an email. “Now that the theft has stopped, fees have dropped by about $100 per year to the rate that they should have been all along. The theft was what was artificially inflating the fees.”