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Former Kearsley teacher, coach sentenced to pay restitution, court costs in charity gaming case

Detroit – A former Kearsley High School physical education teacher and baseball coach today was sentenced to pay nearly $33,000 in restitution and $788 in court costs for embezzlement and charitable gaming violations by Judge Joseph J. Farah in Flint’s Seventh Circuit Court.

Timothy Phipps, 49, of Flint was accused of diverting funds raised at 22 charity poker events advertised as benefits for Kearsley district schools following a joint investigation by the Michigan Attorney General’s office and the Michigan Gaming Control Board. Phipps pled guilty Jan. 19 and agreed to pay the restitution to the Kearsley school district. The investigation revealed district officials were unaware of the charitable gaming events for which Phipps had obtained licenses between July 2012 and October 2013.

“We are pleased the Kearsley schools will receive restitution for money raised at events advertised as fundraisers for the schools,” said Richard Kalm, MGCB executive director.  “State law clearly requires net proceeds from charitable gaming to be devoted exclusively to the charity’s lawful purposes.”

Phipps was charged with felony embezzlement of $1,000 or more but less than $20,000 and two misdemeanor counts of gambling-charitable gaming-disposition of proceeds for diverting a portion of the charitable gaming proceeds for an unlawful purpose by converting them for personal use.

Investigators said Phipps used district officials’ names and forged their signatures to obtain licenses to hold charitable poker games, diverted the funds and then siphoned off some of the proceeds for personal use. The events were held at two former Flint-area poker venues, Gloria’s Poker Palace and Pocket Aces, where the MGCB disallowed charity gaming in 2013 due to violations.

“The Michigan Gaming Control Board works to ensure charities receive a fair share of the funds raised through charitable poker to help their causes and to identify and pursue those who put personal gain ahead of charity,” Kalm said.

Phipps is a 1984 graduate of Kearsley High School.  He taught science and physical education at the high school, coached baseball through the 2014 season and served as an assistant coach for varsity football.

"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."