CMSA sues treasurer Michael Rice claiming he stole more than $160K

Tue. May 4, 2021 1:29 PM by Gerald Farinas

CMSA, the largest LGBT sports organization in the Midwestern U.S., is suing its former treasurer for allegedly stealing more than $160,000 in funds and concealing his financial activities. Michael O. Rice II was relieved of his duties at the Chicago Metropolitan Sports Association last year after failing to get re-elected.

The Board of Directors issued a statement on May 4 saying, “We took immediate action and secured legal counsel to begin the long process of working to seek restitution for any and all CMSA funds put to an improper purpose.”

CMSA attorneys noted that Rice was treasurer for eight years until July 31, 2020.

According to the complaint, Rice issued checks to himself, invented false justifications for the checks, cashing the checks, and all the while hiding it. 

“Also among the allegations are charges that Rice undertook a two-week campaign between July 21 and August 3, 2020, to alter hundreds of fraudulent checks in CMSA's accounting system to cover up his activities, and that he worked to delay a formal audit of CMSA as recently as last year. The amount of suspect checks and transactions identified so far in the investigation totals more than $160,000.”

The attorneys said, “Rice acted intentionally, willfully, and maliciously in flagrant breach of his fiduciary responsibilities to CMSA.”

Criminal proceedings will be processed by the Cook County State's Attorney and will most likely be presented to the Cook County special grand jury—a second grand jury convened in Chicago to indict non-violent offenses like financial crimes. They will decide Rice's fate in criminal court.

The misappropriation of funds is especially bothersome when membership and participation in its sports leagues are based on collection of dues—from as many as 4,000 people.

Luis Dominguez plays several sports in the CMSA.

“I am shocked,” he said. “I have played soccer and volleyball and worried about how this will impact the league.”

“This discovery was shocking and deeply disappointing to us all,” said CMSA Board President Lindsay Frounfelkner.

“Once the auditor's review indicated a high likelihood of misconduct, our Board immediately enlisted legal counsel to further investigate and to take action on behalf of CMSA's members.”

The group is also seeking damages and the cost of its lawsuit.

The Board continues an active investigation, which is being directed by board members whose tenure did not overlap with Rice's time on the board.

Serving on the independent committee are board members Michael Richardson, Kyle Palmer, Jeremiah Stevens, and Jason Topping.

“As a newer CMSA Board member but a long-time member of the organization, I have been impressed with my colleagues for their commitment to transparency and a careful appraisal of the organization's policies and procedures from the time I joined in August 2020,” Stevens said.

“We are all extremely saddened and disappointed by the situation that has led to the complaint we filed today, but I am confident that with the support of CMSA's membership the Board of Directors will responsibly and aggressively address this issue and work to ensure nothing of this nature is able to happen in the future.”

CMSA was established in 1978 as the Gay Sports Association with a flagship softball program. It eventually branched out into bowling, volleyball, football, tennis, racquetball, badminton, soccer, kickball, golf, and dodgeball. In 2020, they added esports.