By Matthew Fischetti
The oldest running little league in Queens is not chartered for the upcoming season, due to charges from the Queens District Attorney’s office alleging President Michael Rizzo of stealing from the league’s funds.
The Ridgewood Glendale Middle Village Maspeth (RGMVM) Little League has still been registering kids for the upcoming season, despite the fact that Rizzo is facing a third-degree grand larceny charge. According to the DA’s office, Rizzo allegedly stole $30,000 from the league’s coffers.
In an email obtained exclusively by The Glendale Register, Corey Wright, the regional operations managing director for the central and east region, stated that the charter for the league would be placed on hold due to Rizzo not resigning as president and other board position roles while under investigation for theft from the league.
“Being that your league is not currently chartered for 2022 season, please be aware we do not recognize you [Rizzo] as the President of the league and are confirming at this time that you are not permitted to hold any volunteer position within the league such as board member, officer, manager/coach or any other active volunteer role until the conclusion of the investigation, dismissal, dropped or cleared of any and all charges currently against yourself specific to this matter,” the email reads.
The email was sent on Feb. 18, but when The Glendale Register went to the registration event held at the RGMVM clubhouse the following day, Mike Rizzo was still helping run the registration for the upcoming season. Rizzo said that he was helping for about an hour as other people involved with the league could not attend the event.
Since then, current members of the RGMVM Little League told The Glendale Register that Rizzo has resigned and Richard Campanella has stepped in as president.
The email also states that “Little League will work with the remaining past officers and newly appointed or elected president to fulfill the chartering process, with [SIC] signing statement of intent to follow all Little League rules and regulations, along with proper reporting processes.”
On the Little League’s website, they provide a financial transparency checklist for individual chapters to follow. Included in the recommendations, it states that treasurers should disclose a monthly financial report to the board, which should be reviewed by an audit committee beforehand and made public through the league website providing a high level of transparency. It also restricts relatives or closely associated individuals from serving as both league president and treasurer.
Former board members who spoke to The Glendale Register under conditions of anonymity said there was no audit committee under Rizzo’s tenure, financial reports were only given yearly, and that he coalesced the responsibilities of treasurer and president into one.
Nowhere on the RGMVM Little League website can you find public disclosures of the budget.
Campanella, the interim president, said that he and the rest of the board will be following all the recommendations and guidelines provided by the national organization to make sure there is no question of any impropriety. Campanella also said that New York Councilman Robert Holden recommended that Rizzo and the rest of the board step down.
Holden’s office did not respond to multiple requests for comment.
At the registration event, The Glendale Register asked Rizzo about whether the league charges for the series of cars, shipping containers, and even a boat parked in the lot behind the fields.
“ We [RGMVM little league] have a couple of people who opt-in and give us a donation every year,” Rizzo responded. He did not give follow-up answers about the specifics of the arrangement.
A representative from the Department of Citywide Administrative Services (DCAS), the agency that rents out the city-owned land, told the The Glendale Register that the league would have to get permission from the city in order to charge for parking and that they have not done so.
Members of the RGMVM little league told the The Glendale Register that registration has been low this year but would not quantify details. While they speculated that some of the registration drop-off is due to the allegations concerning Rizzo’s tenure, they also expect numbers to increase as the weather improves and will be hosting registration a week later than usual to try and fill the spots.
Albert Ramos, a parent who registered their child for the upcoming season, was not aware of the allegations when asked. But after learning of them he said it didn’t affect his decision as Rizzo has not been convicted and his primary focus is getting his kid into little league.
Rizzo’s next court appearance is scheduled for March 15.