BROOKLYN PARK - The girls basketball booster club at Park Center High School says it has been swindled out of more than $20,000, leaving the program scrambling just one month before the start of a new season.
The booster club had spent years amassing the money, which helps pay for the concession stand, travel gear, basketball camp costs and championship banners, among other things.
Now it all appears to be gone.
"Every penny that we had raised in the existence of this club," former booster club president Tony Ragulen said, "was wiped out in six months."
Brooklyn Park Police say they're actively investigating the case but have not made an arrest yet.
But Ragulen, a Pirates alum who also coaches the B-team squad, said he knows which person took the money. This person, who has not been charged yet or officially named by police, allegedly used the $20,000 on casino trips, fast food and even his own utility bills, according to Ragulen.
"It looks like this person was basically using this as a personal account," Ragulen said.
Head coach Barb Metcalf said the rip-off scheme has put the booster club into negative balance.
"It not only breaks my heart; it makes me sick," Metcalf said. "All the items we want to jump-start our program, we have to wait right now. Because we're in the red."
Ragulen said he confronted the person he thinks did it, and he said this person claimed he was having money trouble.
"He was remorseful, embarrassed, but that doesn't make up for what happened," Ragulen said. "We are hoping the individual in question is going to be brought to justice and held accountable for what he's done to these young ladies."
The club has now launched a GoFundMe to recover some of the lost funds.
"It's an unfortunate event," Metcalf said, "but I'm really confident this is going to bring our team and parents and boosters closer together."