BY Jordan Cohen
Police filed a felony theft charge Friday against James Mullen III, who resigned as president of the Niles Frontliners football boosters after $21,000 was discovered missing from the club’s bank account.
Mullen, 45, of Coates Court, Girard, wrote what police describe as “unauthorized checks” totaling $21,090.34 between May 31 and July 23. He resigned after Tim Parry, the Frontliners’ treasurer, questioned him about the checks and the missing funds. Mullen eventually made full restitution of the missing money, according to a statement from the attorney for the Frontliners.
“It doesn’t matter that he made full restitution,” said Capt. Ken Criswell, Niles chief of detectives, Friday. “It’s still a theft.”
Criswell said Mullen, who was accompanied by an attorney, surrendered to police Friday afternoon, and was released on a $2,500 bond pending his arraignment Monday.
The Frontliners raise funds on behalf of the McKinley High School Red Dragons, the varsity football team. The club operates independently of the school district, though Superintendent Mark Robinson has said he plans to maintain a close association with the Frontliners as a result of the incident. Robinson said Parry kept the district informed throughout the investigation.
Parry is also affiliated with a committee raising funds for the renovation of the school district’s Bo Rein Stadium. The Frontliners’ attorney has emphasized that the unauthorized checks were written from the booster group’s account only and did not involve any Rein funds.
With the announcement of restitution, the Frontliners’ attorney said the club has established new safeguards “to prevent any recurrence of this incident.” The nature of the safeguards has not been disclosed.
The Niles Frontliners. Inc., a long-time fundraising booster group, is classified as a charitable nonprofit organization. The club recently elected Joseph Matig, Niles, as its new president. Matig had been vice president under Mullen. An attempt to reach Matig was unsuccessful.