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Shelby Township man charged with embezzling youth baseball team's funds

Suspect allegedly went on Florida vacation, buys car, and pays cell phone bill with funds

Detroit – Following a joint investigation, the Michigan Gaming Control Board (MGCB) and Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette today announced they have charged Joseph Wallace Wolf Jr., 51, of Shelby Township, with five felony counts of embezzling $1,000 to less than $20,000 from a non-profit organization. Each count is punishable by up to 10 years in prison and/or a fine of either $15,000 or triple the embezzled amount if greater than $15,000.                        

Wolf Jr. is accused of embezzling more than $20,000 of the Shelby Township-based youth baseball charity’s funds between 2012 and 2014 to buy a vehicle, travel to Florida, pay his mother’s monthly mobile telephone bills, make a house payment and pay personal vehicle repair bills for himself and other family members.

The money Wolf Jr. allegedly embezzled was raised at millionaire parties, otherwise known as charitable gaming events, for the Detroit Metro Stars youth baseball team. Millionaire parties allow individuals to hold a limited number of casino style events on the behalf of a charity.  Attendees are able to pocket a small portion of their winnings, with the selected charity receiving the rest.

 “The MGCB audits charities to ensure they properly account for and lawfully spend funds raised through millionaire parties,” said MGCB Executive Director Richard Kalm. “We will continue to see embezzlement and other crimes unless we address weaknesses in the current Bingo Act that authorizes charity gaming. Criminal and civil penalties for charities and operators are necessary.”

“Ensuring the integrity of these charitable gaming parties and bringing to justice those who misuse these events for their own financial gain is something I strongly believe in,” said Schuette. “I want to thank MGCB for their diligence in monitoring these types of events and we will continue to work together in the future to protect organizations from greedy and self-serving individuals.”

Detroit Metro Stars Baseball held 32 days of charity poker in 2012 and 2013 at The River, a Shelby Township bar. Detroit Metro Stars Baseball will not be able to conduct charitable gaming until the organization demonstrates to the MGCB it follows proper financial controls.

This year the MGCB also investigated two other Macomb County youth charities, the Clinton Valley Little League in Clinton Township and Switzer Elementary PTO in Shelby Township, after principal members of those organizations were charged with embezzlement of charity gaming proceeds.

On Aug. 4, 2015, Schuette filed the following charges against Joseph Wallace Wolf Jr., 51, of Shelby Township in 41A District Court in Shelby Township, where he was arraigned Aug. 6 before Judge Douglas P. Shepherd:

  • Five counts of Felony Embezzlement of $1,000 to less than $20,000 from a non-profit organization. Each count is punishable by up to 10 years in prison and/or a fine of either $15,000 or triple the embezzled amount if greater than $15,000.
  • A criminal charge is merely an accusation and the defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty.

    Wolf Jr. was released on a $50,000 personal bond and is next due in 41A District Court on Aug. 20 for a probable cause conference. A preliminary exam is scheduled Aug. 27.

    “The Michigan Gaming Control Board shall ensure the conduct of fair and honest gaming to protect the interests of the citizens of the State of Michigan.”