Milton paper’s probe leads to coach citation
MILTON — Following a probe that was sparked by investigative reporting published in the Milton Independent, police cited former Milton youth football program president Matt King on Tuesday for felony embezzlement.
King will be arraigned in September and could face up to 10 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.
The Milton Independent, a weekly community newspaper, published a story titled “Bucking the Bronco” on May 30 based on five months of reporting.
The story outlined how the town’s youth football program, the Milton Broncos, had lost its nonprofit status after failing to file forms with the Internal Revenue Service for the past three years and highlighted King’s irregular management practices.
King, who stepped down as the program’s president on July 9, declined to comment on the charges or the newspaper’s investigation when reached Thursday afternoon.
Colin Flanders and Courtney Lamdin, who reported the initial story in the Independent, said in an interview with VTDigger Thursday that they received a tip late last year about strange financial practices within the program.
“We got our first phone call around December, and over the course of the next month we had a handful of conversations with people who weren’t willing to speak on the record,” Lamdin said.
A month later, Flanders and Lamdin went to a parents meeting for the Broncos and privately told King about what they knew, advising it was in his best interest to prove the claims wrong.
The reporters said that King agreed to talk with them and to provide financial documents regarding the program.
After that conversation, Flanders and Lamdin decided to focus on the financial situation of the Milton Broncos’ main fundraiser, an all-day youth football “jamboree” that brings teams from across New England to Milton.
“We asked if he could send us an expense report for the jamboree. He emailed us a picture, a handwritten budget of the jamboree, on a hotel notepad. And if that is how someone is doing their accounting, something is suspicious,” Lamdin said.
Trying to trace the program’s financials without the nonprofit paperwork designed to ensure transparency, the journalists said they knew the only way to get insight into the Bronco’s actual spending was to obtain the original bank records.
They again got in touch with King and used the same tactic, telling him that if the rumors were false, he should be able to prove it, asking him for bank statements going back six months.
King sent some of the bank statements, but a page was missing and thousands of dollars were unaccounted for. He then cut off contact for two months.
“We gave him one last chance before we went to publication and he wrote us a statement that said he was the only one involved in the program, he admitted to the lapse in submitting IRS forms and he was done answering questions,” Flanders said.
On May 30, the Milton Independent published the story.
Within a week, the Milton Police Department opened an investigation into King.
The lead investigator in the case, Milton Police Detective Nick Hendry, said police officers read the article when it came out and decided that King needed to be investigated.
“The most I can really say is it’s a large case, multiple subpoenas, a lot of interviews took place, and Mr. King was finally cited on July 24,” Hendry said Thursday afternoon.
Hendry declined to say how much King allegedly embezzled — the Independent reported that the missing page alone documented $9,000 in transactions. The detective said this probe was the first time police looked into Milton Broncos management.
“People have asked if we had prior complaints, and we had none prior to the Independent article,” Hendry said.
Flanders and Lamdin said the reaction from Milton residents on the article has been mixed.
“There were people who said, ‘It’s about time someone wrote about this,’ because it was a bit of an open secret for years,” Flanders said.
Others in the community have been more defensive.
“There were also other people who said, ‘You have no right to blame Matt because he’s the only one who puts time in the program, you don’t get involved,’” Flanders said. “But again, Matt wouldn’t let other parents get involved.”
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