WYOMING, Mich. (WOOD) — The president of a West Michigan travel baseball and softball organization put $60,000 into renovations for a hitting club he opened after freezing player accounts, according to police reports obtained by Target 8.
Earlier this month, Target 8 looked into Marc Uturo and his decision to take control of bank accounts associated with the West Michigan Outlaws after stopping a reimbursement system that parents had relied on by volunteering at Van Andel Arena.
He also replaced the organization’s board members with his wife and son by the end of the summer 2019 season.
As a result, all but one team has since left the Outlaws. In the meantime, Uturo opened up the Bombers Hitting Club in the same facility used by the Outlaws for practices. He renovated the space and advertised the club as his new business in November.
In October, two parents who never received reimbursement for submitted receipts made embezzlement complaints to Wyoming police, according to documents Target 8 obtained through the Freedom of Information Act. Two families have also since filed in small claims court and were awarded their respective filing amounts by a judge in January.
Uturo, the organization’s president, has yet to pay those families nor has he responded to Target 8’s attempts to get his perspective on the matter.
Wyoming investigators interviewed Uturo and his wife, who is now handling the Outlaws’ finances, at the station in mid-October.
The officer conducting the interview wrote in part, “They found that money was being paid to parents as reimbursements for various items and expenses that he stated were not allowed. He stated the parents would pay approximately $1,000 a year for their kid to play and should they earn anything over that amount, it would mean the organization is making a profit which he claimed they couldn’t do as a nonprofit.”
The narrative goes on to say, “He stated the money earned from (redacted) should have gone to the organization as a whole instead of each individual player.”
The problem is, a former coach who helped organize the reimbursement system told Target 8 that Uturo didn’t have a problem with it when he first wanted to make board changes six months ago.
“When he told me he wanted to get his family more involved with the Outlaws, he didn’t really include Van Andel in any part of it at that time,” Randy Anderson previously told Target 8. “I asked him initially if we were going to get our money out. My idea was to be able to roll the money into the kids’ new accounts with whatever teams. The only comment he made was no money would be paid out until our equipment had been returned, which we did that, and then it went from there.”
Uturo also discussed his new business with Wyoming police.
“Since 8-1-19 Marc had made numerous improvements and renovations to the West Michigan Outlaws’ facility. In order to maintain the organization, he has brought in the Bombers Hitting Club as a training option for players. He is in the process of recruiting new players and coaches and will be having a grand opening on 11-7-19. He stated the account was approximately $80,000 when he took over and now is at approximately $20,000,” his interview narrative stated.
The Uturos also alerted Wyoming police to 260 fraudulent checks written from the account about a week before their police interview, totaling $6,985. The investigator could not determine who wrote the checks but noted Huntington Bank was “in the process of refunding the money to the Outlaw’s account in full.”
Target 8 visited Bombers Hitting Club Wednesday afternoon shortly after 3 p.m., when it’s supposed to be open. The door was locked and lights inside were off. There’s also a space available sign now sitting in the window, which was not there when Target 8 went by earlier this month.
Ultimately, Wyoming investigators could not find enough evidence to forward the matter to prosecutors for criminal charges and closed the investigation