Matt King embezzled more than $10,000 from the Milton Broncos during his three years as the nonprofit organization’s president, racking up personal expenses ranging from home improvements to a trip to the dentist, a sworn police affidavit shows.
King, 38, pleaded not guilty to felony embezzlement in Chittenden County Superior Court on Thursday following a Milton police investigation into the youth football program. He ran the Broncos until stepping down this July.
Detective Nick Hendry opened his case five days after the Milton Independent published a story May 31 scrutinizing the former president’s leadership. The Indy’s reporting, which detailed numerous financial oddities, is cited extensively in the police affidavit.
King’s attorney, Paul Jarvis, told the judge his client will abide by court-ordered conditions to avoid contact with anyone involved with the Broncos. King is due back in court next month.
Thursday’s hearing comes just over a month after police cited King for felony embezzlement, a crime Vermont statute describes as the fraudulent use of more than $100. But court records show police believe King’s impropriety goes well above that sum.
During a monthlong investigation, detectives pored over Broncos bank statements for June 2015 to June 2018 and identified 123 transactions totaling nearly $10,500 that showed “no legitimate use” for the football program, the affidavit says.
King told police he accidentally spent Broncos money because the program’s checks and debit card “looked exactly the same” as his own, and said he believed he could buy food, fuel up his vehicle and withdraw cash for “Broncos business.” Hendry asked previous Broncos leadership if this was normal practice; they indicated it was not.
Police say King continued to use the Broncos account even after he claimed to realize his errors.
After taking over in 2015, King opened a new bank account and transferred the $9,100 balance from the program’s previous account. Over the next two weeks, King spent $120 at the former Breakwater Cafe in Burlington, withdrew $60 in cash, made a $100 purchase from a golf shoe store and cut himself a $1,000 check with the memo line “football,” court records show.
Thus began a litany of suspicious expenses throughout King’s tenure as the only authorized party on the Broncos account.
The Independent confronted King in January about rumors that he’d embezzled from the program. He denied any suggestion of wrongdoing and said parents don’t understand the “hidden costs.”
“I don’t know what personal expenses I would have,” he said at the time. “I mean, football money is so small. We have enough money to maintain the year. What am I gonna do? Buy a car?”
A truck, in fact: King put a $1,000 down payment on a 2011 Toyota Tundra in December 2015 using Broncos money, court records show.
The following October, around the time he purchased a home, King wrote a handful of checks including:
- $50 for a dog fence
- $164 for carpet
- $300 for a dumpster
- $576 for heating fuel
- $600 for a pellet stove
- And $1,900 to have his house painted, the affidavit says.
That same fall, King was forced to confront a growing threat to his presidency: parents, who demanded more transparency with the program and its finances. They enlisted the help of the league president, who directed King to assemble a board of directors that could ensure he’s held accountable.
Unwilling to cede control, King would continue to deny parents access to financial statements while simultaneously chastising them for not getting involved. Sure, he made some mistakes, like failing to submit tax forms and losing the Broncos’ nonprofit status in the process, but without him, he posited, the program would have failed long ago.
Under King’s tutelage, however, the once revered Broncos gained a reputation of dysfunction. Enrollment dropped as parents registered their kids in neighboring towns, or pulled them out of football altogether, and the Broncos would soon be on the verge of an existential crisis.
At the program’s first meeting of 2018, King said despite what some parents say, he had nothing to hide, and he agreed to provide bank records to prove it. But he withheld pages detailing thousands of dollars in transactions and ignored subsequent requests for a full accounting.
On the same day the Independent’s story broke in May, the Broncos announced a new campaign: They would lobby the school board to take ownership of their middle school-level teams, a way out of their self-inflicted troubles. King, who said he wanted to take on a lesser role, strongly supported the move.
To sweeten the deal, he offered a $4,000 donation – almost half of the $7,800 he said was in the team’s bank account – toward startup costs. Since the team only had $1,000 in its account at the end of 2017, it was unclear where all that money came from.
Asked to explain, King pleaded ignorance, saying, “There’s probably some checks that weren’t put in, I don’t know.” But court records show King indeed knew the source of the deposit: His personal bank account.
In March, after weeks of refusing the Independent’s requests for more financial documents, King deposited $6,000 to the Broncos account, court records show. He later told police he arrived at that sum after reviewing the account and tallying his improper expenses, but he remained adamant that it was all a big mistake.
Four months later, police summoned King to the station for processing. He refused to sign the citation.
Read previous stories from the Independent’s investigation here: