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MARFU Finances Still Under Scrutiny

Tuesday Apr 7, 2009 in Off the Field General

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April 7, 2009 - The Mid-Atlantic Rugby Football Union is possibly pursuing legal action in relation to what administrators say is mismanagement of funds by previous officers.

In a widely-released memo, the MARFU Executive Board outlined allegations of misuse of the Territorial Union’s funds to the tune of $150,000. The Union did not name those responsible, saying only they were the previous Union President and Treasurer.

ERugbyNews attempted to contact the previous MARFU president, Elaine Recchiuti, and treasurer, Pat Costello. Costello did not return ERN emails, but Recchiuti did reply and told ERugbyNews that she was in part responsible for blowing the whistle on the TU’s financial problems.

Current MARFU president Kris Kabza said in a phone interview that the MARFU Board is very confident in its allegations, and added that the misuse of funds is more serious than first outlined. However, the investigation has at present only been internal and no outside auditors have been called in.

”We have gone through all the statements, and we have found a huge number of expenses that are clearly not for rugby purposes,” Kabza said.

Kabza links Recchiuti and Costello in this – saying neither is blameless – but he added that he is personally upset because he has known both for years.

Red flags went up last year when Costello, who had been the MARFU treasurer for some time, stopped returning phone calls and emails. Union officers went to his house but could not contact him. Kabza even went so far as to advise a Local Area Union not to send in its dues check, because he wasn’t sure what would happen to the funds.

Kabza alleges that Costello, who was widely known for his detailed approach to running a union budget, had been using funds for non-rugby purposes and covering it up.

”It was a masterful fabrication,” Kabza said. “But we found really obvious things – not just cash withdrawals for no discernable reason, but overseas transactions when we had no overseas business.” As eRugbyNews prepared this story, Costello was still unreachable.

How much Recchiuti is involved is unclear. She told ERugbyNews twice that she alerted the MARFU Board to possible financial irregularities. Kabza and others on the Board said that’s only partially true and that Recchiuti, after being pressed to give online access to the current Board, said “OK, but you won’t like what you see.”

Kabza said the new MARFU Board ensured Costello and Recchiuti could not access the MARFU accounts, and are now pursuing legal action against the former executives. He added that current union dues are safe and that the union will be able “fulfill its obligations” this season.

”We are saddened and shocked by this,” Kabza said. “You have to have a process and checks and balances. We thought we did, with the treasurer and the president having access to finances, but they are both implicated. In the end we’re a volunteer organization with a six-figure budget and at some point we have to trust someone.”

The Current MARFU Board has been advised that if this matter does indeed go to court, they will need a non-biased, independent accountant to go over the books.


- Alex Goff © www.erugbynews.com




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