Glendale Bears leader ousted

SOUTH GLENDALE — The president of Glendale Bears Youth Football and Cheerleading organization has been ousted after board members said they discovered thousands of dollars of unpaid debt had accumulated under her leadership.

Glendale Bears' new leadership announced this week to dozens of concerned parents that they had asked Tina Marquez to step down on Oct. 5 from her role as president after noticing the organization was about $29,000 in debt, said Maricela Torres, the group's new president.

Torres, new Vice President Vincent Muniz and Athletic Director Irene Muniz apologized to parents during a meeting Tuesday night at Glendale High School for Marquez's alleged mishandling and mismanagement of the organization's funds. They were also apologetic about the length of time that it took to make the move.

"We are not here to bash Tina," Vincent Muniz told parents. "We are not here to accuse her. This is just very important information. You guys all pay good money to have your kids play here. We need to know where that money went, and we weren't informed."

The organization's board of directors provided parents with a letter, explaining their decision to remove Marquez from the top position.

They alleged that Marquez violated the organization's bylaws because she changed banks and made decisions without consulting the board, failed to pay past debts, failed to provide proper safety equipment for players and didn't pay fees to play in the San Gabriel Valley Jr. All-American Football Conference.

Repeated attempts to reach Marquez were unsuccessful.

Marquez's mother, Elizabeth Burgueños, also stepped down from her role as the organization's treasurer.

"I felt like I let you parents down, and once again, I had no part of this," she told parents at the meeting.

Irene Muniz, the group's athletic director, said they were never shown financial records until after they finally met with Marquez, her mother and a mediator from the football conference.

She said the organization's financial records were incomplete and unclear.

It was the latest financial woe to hit the group.

Glendale Bears has been struggling to remain afloat after its former treasurer fled after embezzling more than $30,000 in July 2008.

The former treasurer, Louella Lucas Ragland, 39, of Los Angeles, was ultimately convicted of embezzlement and ordered to serve three years probation and refund the stolen money. Even so, Glendale Bears leaders say they've yet to see a single repayment.

In April 2009, Marquez said the theft had left the organization $15,000 in debt. At the time, she had expressed doubts that the organization would continue to exist because of the large debt.

At Tuesday's meeting, the organization's new co-treasurer, Maria Mota, assured parents they would make all of its financial records available and viewable at any time.

Still, parents expressed frustration over the increasing debts and said they had concerns about the new leadership, which had been on the board of directors while Marquez was in her post.

Glendale resident Joseph Smith's children have been playing with the Glendale Bears for three years. Last year, he paid $325 for each child to play with the organization in addition to their equipment.

He said he left the meeting out of frustration.

"We raised a lot of money, but none of it seems to go to our kids," he said.

Organizers assured parents they would continue the season and investigate how the latest mishap occurred.

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