HOUSTON (FOX 26) - Fall soccer might not happen this year for about 1,300 kids in Spring. That’s according to Klein Soccer Club board members who say an embezzlement case has cash-strapped the club.
Klein Soccer Club’s attorney tells Fox 26 the former president of the nonprofit pocketed more than $200 thousand—money that was supposed to go to children’s soccer. Now the future of the 24 soccer fields at Meyer Park is up in the air.
“I hope there’s a special place in hell for people who will steal from a kids club,” said Ken Grier, a volunteer coach and referee for Klein Soccer Club.
Klein Soccer Club has leased the fields at Meyer Park for 40 years, giving thousands of kids the chance to play soccer for cheap, but all that might be coming to an end.
According to a lawsuit filed by Klein Soccer Club, former president Troy Brooks stole $204 thousand from the club. Board members say he siphoned that money away over a period of about three years.
“The families pay in automatically into a database through a third party provider,” said Tom Kerr, attorney for Klein Soccer Club. “He just set that up to pay into his account.”
“We’ve been told by the District Attorney’s Office that an indictment is forthcoming,” said Grier
Board members say Brooks was kicked of the board last year after the embezzlement was uncovered. That same year the club’s lease with Harris County came up for renewal.
This time, instead of a $250 renewal fee, the county is asking for 10 percent of the club’s gross revenue and also asking that they help out with utility fees at the park.
“What we’re trying to do with all of our fields out there is move to a new contract format, which we’ve already done with some of our sports associations,” said Dennis Johnston, parks director for Harris County Precinct 4.
“They refer to it as 10 percent of the profits,” said Kerr. “Klein Soccer, unlike most of the clubs, is a nonprofit organization. There are no profits to seek 10 percent of.”
Board members say the cost of maintaining the park is on their shoulders already, and they break even each year. After Harvey repairs and the embezzlement case, funds are extra tight.
“We can’t move forward with what the county is now demanding from us,” said Grier.
Grier resigned from club’s board last week amid the drama. He’s still a coach and referee.
“Heartbroken,” said Grier. “I’ve been a part of this club for over 30 years. I started with my kids—coaching them.”
Johnston says he’ll meet with the commissioner about the issue next Thursday, then try to come to an agreement with Klein Soccer Club.
“We have not made a decision yet,” said Johnston. “Parents should know that we are going to have an organization over there, no matter what it is—whether it’s Klein Soccer Association or Klein Soccer Association and a hybrid of a couple other good sports associations working together.”
Klein Soccer club won the lawsuit it filed last year against the former president accused of stealing funds. The judgement was for $800 thousand. So far they have not been able to collect any of that money, said Kerr.