The former chief operating officer of the Davis Kids Klub, a nonprofit after-school program, is accused of embezzling more than $100,000 from the organization over a three-year period.
Mark Roberts, 30, was arrested Wednesday at his home in Sacramento on a Yolo County Superior Court warrant charging him with embezzlement, said Lt. Tom Waltz, spokesman for the Davis Police Department.
Roberts began working for the Davis Kids Klub in 2007 as a site director, later adding the duties of chief operating officer, said Raphael Moore, counsel for the Kids Klub. Roberts resigned in August 2016 and started another program, the Everest Learning Academy, also in Davis.
After Roberts resigned, Moore said, accounting discrepancies were found. Parents requested receipts, for tax purposes, for payments for which there were no records, Moore said. In other cases, parents reported that they previously had received discounts if they paid program fees in cash or for annual pre-payments. But Moore said the Davis Kids Klub had never offered such discounts.
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He said parents reported making cash payments or delivering cashier’s checks for program fees directly to Roberts.
“You might think this would have raised red flags to some parents,” Moore said.
Although some parents said they thought it a little odd, they were pleased to get a discount and were happy with the care their children were receiving, he said. Many who were offered the discounts were lower-income parents who were looking to do what was best for their family, he said.
In October, the Davis Kids Klub turned over the information it had gathered to the Davis Police Department, which launched an investigation.
“A five-month investigation revealed that Roberts signed up clients, offered tuition discounts and then insisted parents pay with cash or money order. There is evidence that Roberts kept the money he collected,” states a police department news release.
Waltz said the alleged embezzling is believed to have begun in 2013.
Roberts did not respond Thursday to requests for comment via email or a voice mail message left for him at the Everest Learning Academy.
Lynda Yancher, executive director of the Davis Kids Klub, said the nonprofit was founded in 2003 when the Davis Joint Unified School District was looking for an organization to operate after-school programs for its students. The Kids Klub rents space at seven of the district’s eight elementary schools and serves approximately 300 students in kindergarten through sixth grade during the school year. The program offers tutoring, help with homework, enrichment activities and healthy snacks, she said.
Camps during summer and school breaks also are available.
The Kids Klub is not subsidized by the school district. Yancher said the program has set fees, but offers a sliding scale for students who qualify for the free or reduced-price school meal programs. The Kids Klub also works to provide scholarships for families identified by school principals as having financial need.
In addition, Yancher said the Davis Kids Klub seeks to give back to the school district by providing programs such as theater productions or equipment that benefit all students at a school site, not just those enrolled in the Kids Klub.
Although the business operation remains financially secure despite the alleged embezzlement, Yancher said the money lost could have gone toward providing those extra services to all students.
Yancher said the Davis Kids Klub now requires that all student registration and fee payments be conducted online.