The Board of Directors of Friends of Special Education Kids (FOSEK) has released what they say will be their only public comment on the embezzlement allegations against LaShanta Magnusson until the legal process has run its course.
The statement came in the form of a letter sent to families whose children participate in FOSEK programs, FOSEK volunteers, supporters and members on the media.
Magnusson, a 34-year-old Tewksbury mother of two and the former treasurer of FOSEK, was arraigned last week in Lowell District Court on charges she had stolen more than $5,100 in small increments starting in 2010. She pleaded "not guilty" to the charges, was released on her own recognizance and is due back in court in January.
The statement read as follows:
Dear FOSEK Families, Volunteers and Friends,
Over the next several weeks you will probably be hearing of an issue we have experienced on the Board of Directors of FOSEK. This information will come out via the media and the Tewksbury Police Department (TPD). We feel it is best for you to hear it from us first.
It came to light in early Sept. that there were irregularities in our bank statements. In some instances it was bank error but in others it was unauthorized access to funds. With this information in hand, we took action and contacted the TPD to investigate the missing funds. That investigation has come to an end and unfortunately it points to a FOSEK board member, with access to these accounts, allegedly misappropriating funds for personal use.
We will not be naming the person in question at this time, as we stand by the legal standard of innocent until proven guilty. We have taken action as a board to secure our funds. We felt as a board we had sufficient proof from our own internal investigation to take these steps. We believe in transparency and we will not act to shield anyone involved in this matter. We have cooperated fully with the police investigation and we were asked to delay this announcement until the TPD completed their efforts and gave us the OK. That is the only reason for the delay in sending this notice.
The BoD has worked hard to make FOSEK an organization you can trust to do what is best for the incredible athlete's we serve. We ask that you keep an open mind and please alert any board member of any rumors you may hear or of any inappropriate communications you may receive from present or former FOSEK board members. We all hope to bring this dark chapter to a close as soon as possible.
In the mean time, we will continue to offer our programs as we always have. We hope you will continue to support us and allow us to regain your trust. There will be changes made to the way the board does business with stronger controls in place to ensure this type of thing will never happen again.
Please feel free to contact any board member with questions. We will do our best to answer all questions in full.
FOSEK Board of Directors
The message was sent in an email by board member Bob Gill. As part of the email, Gill said the board would be making no further comment until the case had been adjudicated.
FOSEK oversees several programs for special needs children in Tewksbury, including soccer, basketball, kickball, t-ball, golf and kickball.