A former league officer with McKinney Little League Baseball asserts that recent allegations against former president Ed Leps for misusing league funds are true, while a former board member comes to the aide of Leps.
“What Ed has done has killed the league, basically,” former McKinney Little League Baseball safety officer and coach Michael Bennett said.
Despite former league president Jimmy Dempsey’s remarks that Bennett and Leps were entangled in a personal feud, Bennett said he and Leps had been friends for years, and there was never a personal dispute.
Bennett, however, said, he became suspicious when he saw equipment missing and noticed Leps purchased equipment on his personal credit card.
While trying to purchase uniforms for last season’s All-Star game, Bennett said, there was a last-minute change and more uniforms were needed for one team. Bennett contacted a local company to place the order and was informed the league had an unpaid bill of $800. Bennett said Leps ordered the uniforms but never made the payment.
He added Leps would make comments to him that he was paying for equipment with his personal credit card.
Bennett said the league purchased near $13,000 worth of equipment last season, but as coaches meetings were under way, the new equipment was missing from the league’s storage facility.
Bennett alleged Leps purchased around $8,000 in new equipment the next day.
He hopes a McKinney Police Department investigation into Leps is “cut and dry,” stating what Leps did was against the law, adding that the investigation would be “vindication” for the league and himself.
Chad Barker, Sergeant with the McKinney Police Department, said the Criminal Investigations Division has received information on Leps, but cannot comment further on any pending cases.
TownsquareBuzz.com reached out to Leps for comment on the accusations against him, but he has not responded to requests.
Former board member Rusty Robinson came to the aide of Leps, saying the allegations that Leps embezzled $20,000 to $30,000 are not true. The only true allegations against Leps, Robinson said in an email, was that he allegedly gained personal benefit by purchasing equipment with his credit card and being reimbursed with league funds.
Robinson said there was sloppy bookkeeping, and also a check that was made out to cash and signed by Leps. He added that there is no documentation as to what the check was for.
“Those are the only true allegations against Mr. Leps,” Robinson said.
Bennett explained that he attempted to address the board in June of his suspicions, and he wanted to take a look at the league’s finances. The league, however, did not give him access to financials, he said.
At this time, Bennett said, the league had no funds, an unpaid bill in the amount of $2,800 to equipment manufacturer Riddell and hadn’t paid for its charter, estimated to cost around $5,000. The league had around $1,500 in its bank account — a point Dempsey and new league president Lonea Gilbert addressed last week.
He added that Leps sent him an email saying the charter hadn’t been paid, and that he hadn’t done background checks for around two years.
Once the board didn’t take action on Leps, Bennett said he went to the city to address the issues.
It was at this time Leps told Bennett that he was going to resign, but wanted Bennett to resign with him. Bennett said Leps wanted him to resign to keep knowledge of the allegations from getting out.
“That damage was already done,” Bennett said.
Although Dempsey said he was opposed to the cancellation of the fall season, Bennett said minutes from that meeting will show the vote to approve the cancellation of the fall season to be unanimous at 9-0.
He said the league is now “dead” since the fall season was cancelled.
He also disputed claims made by Dempsey that no former board members currently serve on the board, but noted Dempsey is now serving as the league’s safety officer, with several board members having ties to Dempsey’s Little League team.
Robinson supported Bennett’s claims, saying the new board members are from Dempsey’s teams he coach in McKinney Little League.
“There’s no diversity in the new board,” Robinson said. “Still the good ol’ boys club as it was before, and until that changes MLLB should be punished because they did not abide by the agreement with McKinney Park and Recreation; because Mr. Leps did not turn in the background checks to be run as required by Little League International and the City of McKinney.”
He also refutes Dempsey’s claims the McKinney Baseball Association, which took in many players and teams from McKinney Little League at the last minute in 2013, was contacted prior to the shutdown of the fall season. And to his knowledge, Robinson said, MBA was never contacted by McKinney Little League Baseball.
“Seems Mr. Dempsey has his facts all wrong,” Robinson said.
Both Bennett and Robinson expressed their faith in Gilbert, but while saying her heart is in the right place, looming financial issues, unpaid bills and the lack of funds in its bank account will make it difficult for the league to return.
“The new board is betting on registration fees to bring in money, but with all the controversy surrounding MLLB, how many people will return to McKinney Little League?” Robinson said.
Bennett said he’s not sure if the league’s efforts to save the 2014 season will work. The city manager, Jason Gray, will reportedly make a final decision next week on McKinney Little League’s status, TSB reported.
He said both Little League and MBA use mainly two parks, causing scheduling conflicts throughout the season.
Bennett added that both parks, when compared to fields in Plano and Allen, aren’t maintained as well and need to be repaired. Plano and Allen each have just one baseball league.
Dempsey said last week the nine-to-10-year old division had 27 teams in it, with many games ending by scores of 10-0 and 12-1 and there being a lack of competitiveness.
And despite Dempsey’s claims MBA had too many teams, Bennett said MBA seems to be doing just fine, saying, “they want every part of this.”
“McKinney wants one league, and they got it,” Robinson said.