The Chicago Metropolitan Sports Association (CMSA), an LGBTQ+ sports organization, has resolved an investigation in which former treasurer Michael O. Rice II allegedly took thousands of dollars from the group.
In a letter to its board of directors that Windy City Times acquired, it was stated, "Last week, at the conclusion of a mediation held with the judge presiding over the civil suit, we were able to come to terms on a final settlement that concludes legal proceedings in this matter."
The letter continued, "At the start of these proceedings, which began when CMSA's independent auditor presented concerns to the organization regarding unusual activity in its books prior to Mr. Rice's departure as Treasurer, CMSA engaged legal counsel and formed an Independent Committee to investigate and take action. The Independent Committee's mandate was to direct legal counsel, ascertain exactly what happened to CMSA's funds, determine if anyone else shares responsibility, determine how to prevent this from happening in the future, and take appropriate action to recover CMSA's funds.
"The Independent Committee and its counsel conducted numerous interviews, undertook an exhaustive review of CMSA's accounting and banking records, and extensively reviewed CMSA's policies and procedures to determine if this misappropriation could have been detected or prevented. Based on this review, CMSA has implemented a number of new policies and safeguards. Among these safeguards, all bank statements now include copies of all checks presented for payment, all bank statements are now provided to the Board as a part of the Treasurer's report, and an independent bookkeeper has been retained to process all checks and to act as an external review. Other protective measures have also been implemented on a smaller scale.
"As for the settlement with Mr. Rice, from the beginning the Board was adamant that any resolution must include: full compensation for CMSA's financial losses, including interest; a defined payment schedule; and protection against default. On March 3 we reached [an] agreement on a settlement with Mr. Rice adhering to those requirements. He has agreed to fully reimburse the organization by making agreed monthly payments beginning on April 15, 2022. The agreement also includes a fair interest rate and a significant increase in the interest rate should he default. As part of the settlement, a final judgment was entered in favor of CMSA and against Mr. Rice the same day [that] gives CMSA the ability to enforce immediately in court in the event of any default in Mr. Rice's payment obligations."
The letter added, "The civil settlement is separate from any criminal action, which is outside of CMSA's control. CMSA filed a police report at the same time it filed the civil lawsuit. We will continue to cooperate with law enforcement."
CMSA initially announced May 4, 2021, that it had filed a five-count lawsuit in the Circuit Court of Cook County seeking damages and restitution from its former board treasurer for fraud and misappropriation of funds. According to a statement, former Board Treasurer Michael O. Rice II "engaged in a pattern of misappropriation and fraud, issuing checks to himself, inventing false justifications for the checks, cashing the checks, and concealing his activities from the board of directors and officers."
CMSA officials additionally maintained that Rice acted intentionally, willfully and maliciously in flagrant breach of his fiduciary responsibilities to CMSA."