FOSEK Rebounds From Scandal With Start of Basketball Season
Sports program for young people with special needs hoping to move forward.
Vin Messina won't sugarcoat it.
The Friends Of Special Education Kids (FOSEK) president admits an embezzlement scandal last summer rocked the organization. Questions of trust and leadership arose, resulting in the resignations of several board members and the financial protocols of the organization being re-worked.
But as FOSEK looks to emerge from the scandal, Messina has a message to the Merrimack Valley -- FOSEK is still here and its mission hasn't changed.
"FOSEK will continue to make the best programs as they always have available to all of our special abilities athletes as we have for the last seven years," said Messina. "Our athletes have a great time and the volunteers and staff enjoy working with them."
The FOSEK basketball season has recently begun. Young ballplayers and their volunteer coaches meet each Sunday from 1 to 2 p.m. at the Wynn School. It's a non-competitive program focused on teaching and fun.
Fun took a backseat last year, when former FOSEK Treasurer LaShanta Magnusson was arrested and charged with embezzling more than $5,000 from the organization. Her next court date is Feb. 13.
Messina admits that, as president of the board of the non-profit agency, he bears some of the responsibility for the alleged thefts because the proper protocols were not in place.
"She'd bring me a (fictitious) balance figure each month but she never brought the list of transactions," he said.
Messina says protocols have been established that require two signatures on each transaction and alert the board president to all transactions. Messina also stressed that FOSEK intends to demand full restitution from Magnusson for the money she allegedly stole.
With the basketball season ongoing and the softball season not far off, Messina said FOSEK is continuing to look for volunteers committed to helping young special needs athletes.