LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) – Some Kentuckiana youth football players where sacked by a coach who allegedly stole the league's money. Eric Mason, former president of the Okolona Youth Football League, is under investigation by Louisville Metro Police over thousands in missing money.
Bank records show from April to August, Mason made huge cash withdrawals from the league's bank account taking out hundreds, even thousands of dollars at a time with no accounting of what he spent it all on. Records also show he made charges with the league's debit card for personal use.
On Saturday afternoon, the final minutes ticked away on the Okolona Titans Youth Football League season with the junior team on the losing end of its championship game. It was a disappointing end to a season full of letdowns.
Jordan Graves, an 11-year-old Titan player, called Mason "just another person I couldn't trust. And if you steal from me I just can't live with you."
Mason is under investigation after the league's savings were drained in a matter of months. The account went from more than $3,000 to less than $30. That left the players without enough money for socks, team pictures, or an end of the year party, and in need of a game changer.
So the WAVE 3 Troubleshooter Department found two WAVE 3 viewers willing to split the cost of 38 large pizzas from Papa John's. The Troubleshooter Department brought the drinks for the pizza party, which happened directly following the game.
Warner Wheat from the Poppe Law Firm in Louisville said his partner, Hans Poppe, saw our original report and wanted to do something to help.
"It's not about our contribution," Wheat said. "I just hope they can forget what happened to the team and they don't dwell on that but dwell on the season and how hard they worked."
Jack Turner, owner of Lazer Blaze in St. Matthews, also helped pay for the pizza. Turner also handed out free laser tag cards to the players.
"I see a lot of smiles and full stomachs and life is good when you have a full stomach," Turner said, adding the biggest thing he would want the Titans to know is that "we care."
So does local realtor and amateur photographer Stacy Bellis. She spent hours taking team pictures to replace the ones the players never got.
"I hope that they look at the pictures and think that's that year somebody came and took pictures. That somebody went out of their way to help," said Bellis. "But if nothing else I hope they look at that picture and say that's me playing football."
A football season that league board member LA Graves claims could have been sidelined without the help of these viewers.
"We appreciate the support," Graves said. "Can't win them all. But in the end we are still winners cause we are still here."
The league is now moving forward under a new name - the Okolona Southern Knights. Coaches believe the name "Titans" is now synonymous with Mason, the man league members' claim didn't play by the rules.
By phone, Mason said he had hired an attorney and expects to meet with the Louisville Metro Police detective soon.
"The truth will come out," Mason said. "I'm not the bad guy they are making me out to be. There are two sides to every story."
Mason said all the debit card charges we mentioned in our original report went to buy things for the football team. When I asked about the large cash with drawls made using checks with his signature, Mason said he wanted to explain that to the detective before talking about it publicly.
Tuesday, April 20 2010 11:21 PM EDT2010-04-21 03:21:00 GMT
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