A former high school teacher from the Kearsley School District, Michigan, has been arrested on suspicion of stealing money raised through a series of charity poker tournaments.
Timothy Phipps from Flint appeared in court on November 13 to hear charges of embezzlement and fraud relating to funds raised during charity poker events he was in charge of.
According to the court documents, Phipps, who is 49, is unable to account for at least $17,000 in cash raised for local charities.
In a statement by the Michigan Gaming Control Board’s executive director Richard Kalm, Phipps was grated 22 party licenses which allowed him to sell $330,000 worth of casino chips at his charity events.
Essentially, Phipps was able to charge a buy-in for the charity tournament and players were able to compete for a series of prizes. All the cash raised through the buy-ins (after costs) should then have been given to a nominated charity.
However, according to the case against him, Phipps never deposited $17,000 in funds to any of the accounts belonging to the schools or local groups he claimed to be a representative of.
The venues that had allowed Phipps to host the 49 events he presided over, Gloria’s Poker Palace and Pocket Aces, have since shutdown; however, Phipps won’t get away that easily.
Despite the state’s Gaming Control Board imposing a number of conditions on those who want to offer charitable events involving gambling, Phipps reportedly had a strong standing in the local community.
This reputation, combined with allegations that he forged signatures to obtain the necessary permits to sell chips, allowed him to operate virtually unchecked after receiving his licenses.
It’s believed that Phipps gradually took money out of the funds raised and used them for his own gain, instead of depositing them into the accounts of the nominated charities and local organizations.
This suspicion was enough to bring charges of embezzlement and gambling away charitable funds; charges he’ll now have to answer in front of a judge on November 25.
In the meantime, Phipps has been released on a $20,000 personal bond and, according to his attorney, the issue will be resolved without any further issues.
“I can only say Mr. Phipps’ reputation precedes him in that community and the issue will be amicably resolved following conversations with the Gaming Control Board,” said Michael Manley.