CHOCTAW, Okla. - The former president of a youth athletics program in Oklahoma has been charged with embezzlement.
Investigators claim Mike Kiesel, the former president of the Choctaw-Nicoma Park Youth Athletics organization, was spending the money meant for children at area casinos.
Choctaw police say they started the investigation after getting several anonymous tips from parents.
The league is made up of second through sixth graders who play baseball and football.
The new league president says it was no secret Kiesel gambled.
“Everybody knew, everybody knew he went to casinos,” said Aaron McConnell.
However, McConnell says he knew something was odd.
“When you looked at the equipment and the helmets and the shoulder pads and some of those things, you could tell nothing was being bought year to year, so you always kind of wondered, where is that money going?” said McConnell.
In fact, the helmets had not been inspected in eight years.
Those inspections are supposed to occur every year.
“When you’re wearing helmets that are out of date and, you know, I mean the safety of our kids is what was in more jeopardy than anything,” said McConnell.
In court documents, Kiesel said he was using the organization’s account as if it was his own personal account.
“He admitted that he had a gambling problem and that he was gambling away part of these funds,” said Conny Clay, the Choctaw police chief.
Choctaw police teamed up with Midwest City officers since the banks with the funds were located in that city.
Investigators say more than $17,000 in cash was withdrawn from ATMs at area casinos.
“We got hit with over $10,000 in bills the day this come out and we took over,” said McConnell.
McConnell says as they struggle to get things in order, they’re also putting in a system of checks and balances so this can’t happen again.
“We actually have bylaws now that we’re following you know down to the letter. We have a board. Everybody has a title on that board. We’re voting on everything,” said McConnell.
In a brief phone conversation, Kiesel told NewsChannel 4 that he preferred not to make a comment on the case against him.
Mike Kiesel turned himself in to Midwest City police Tuesday evening and immediately bonded out.