I think the Ontario Minor Hockey Association (OMHA) thinks embezzlement is a petty crime. After all, it’s the parents that are footing the bill for their child to get into the big leagues. When a certain OMHA employee saw the big numbers in their bank account they instantly knew they were in a position of trust based on opportunity. I think that for the first 5 or 6 month period that the money went missing the individual had a certain sense of invincibility since their purchases and withdrawals were unnoticed. Do the OMHA administrators ever check the bank account balances of their employees? Of course not.
If they did, then they’re only looking at volunteers or low-paid clerks. Why would the OMHA be alerted of the missing money? The long-term employee must have been smiling when he or she knew that they were the only individual involved with processing, paying, and receiving funds. I can imagine that employee going to work every single day, never taking a vacation, and cuddling close to the President going through the checklists and making sure all the operating budgets are taken care of. I really think that employee knew the social environment that they were working in. Ultimately, their goal was to ensure the OMHA would never review any banking records and any unfamiliar bank withdrawals.
The Toronto-based accounting firm MNP LLP broke the news and stated that money went missing between June 1, 2018 and November 30, 2018. Mind you, the biggest investment fraud from children’s hockey in Canada was by a former treasurer of the Pickering Hockey Association (PHA) who was ordered to repay $725,000 in stolen funds. Many have indicated it was a major disappointment and heartache for the individuals that work in these organizations for the right reasons.
Normally, the culprit in embezzlement is well-known, soft-spoken, and trusted. The culprit who stole the money from the PHA indicated, “Time to set the record straight, years ago I took (PHA) money convinced there were big profits in Enron. Bad idea. For years I was gambling with PHA money trying to pay it back. Bottom line, I owe the PHA 200K with no assets.”
Unfortunately, unlike American counterpart embezzlers, Canadians always insist that they planned to pay the money back. A former treasurer for an Alaska youth hockey association was charged with stealing nearly $160,000. Most of the money was used for their own personal consumption rather than for their grandchildren, children, or siblings. Another individual in Michigan was caught embezzling almost $50,000 from a minor hockey association, however she turned herself in. Another woman in Alaska was charged with stealing upwards of $180,000 from the Mustang Hockey Association.
These examples are endemic in hockey, but the real kicker is the $2.3 million from the OMHA. The reason why the OMHA is muted with respect to the $2.3 million is because they are embarassed that a long-term employee of the organization took them for a ride. All eyes went on executive director Ian Taylor as the person in charge of the OMHA overseeing 300,000 players, parents, volunteers, and officials. President of the York Simcoe Hockey League, Eric Kopsala, stated, “My expectation is the OMHA ought to be coming up with a clear explanation. After all is done, I’m expecting a healthy conversation about it. I’d like to hear a breakdown of what happened and how we’ll fix it.”
Many of the members club thought it was only $2,300 embezzled versus the actual $2.3 million. Many of the members who contributed to the OMHA were stunned that the missing money was not detected earlier. Many will argue that there’s a contingency fund and insurance that will retrieve the lost funds.
A good friend of mine and President of the Vaughan Golden Knights Minor Hockey Association said it best, “They choose to deny, deflect and delay (DDD) until the York Region and YRP got involved and even now are continuing to DDD. They could’ve announced this before April 15th when registrations open up for the 2019-2020 season but of course they did not. This does not show good faith. They must allow all registrations for next season to de-register with full refund and no admin fees deducted. The amount alleged $2,365,934 to be exact. For kids/youth non-profit hockey this is beyond massive.”
Many other leagues in Ontario have told me they are distraught by the actions of the OMHA in failing to address this issue. Many of the clubs have indicated to myself that not only is this beyond massive, but the biggest embezzlement in the history of the minor hockey community and not one mainstream media source is willing to pick up the story because of their cowardliness. Sometimes a long-term employee becomes more inculcated in the hierarchy of the OMHA administration rather than the parents that are footing the bill.
The $2.3 million embezzlement represents the largest fraud in North America. Parents are upset because the final end-game is the fact that this is their money, their children, and their belief that the hockey community stands tall amidst adversity rather than embarrassing itself. To all the OMHA teams I talk to, I salute you. We are stronger, we are determined, and we have to learn from the forensic analysis that an event like this never happens again. The hockey parents have a voice and they’re not going to tolerate this any longer.