Buena Vista Lions say they're not embezzling funds - WNEM TV 5

Buena Vista Lions say they're not embezzling funds

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BUENA VISTA TOWNSHIP, MI (WNEM) -

Leonard Williams answering tough questions about his organization, the Buena Vista Lions. It's one of 1,000 nonprofits nationwide, named in a Washington Post article about unauthorized purchases. Williams is president of this branch of the lions. He tells me nothing improper is happening here.

"My treasurer will not issue a check unless he comes to me and we'll OK it. Or we bring it to the body and the body will have to vote the money out. It's not where I can go in and get money," Williams said.

Here's how this all started. When the group filed their 2011 tax return they checked a box stating that a significant diversion of assets took place totaling more than $6,000. Williams says a lot of that money went to maintain their building on Outer Drive. The rest, he says, went to help the less fortunate such as taking children Christmas shopping. After all that's what the Lions Club is all about.

"We spent $1,200 for kids. We take them out to Meijers and we let the kids come through and they get fifty dollars a person," Williams said.

But the question still remains, if these are normal expenditures that the Lions make every year then why was that box on the tax return checked for significant diversion of assets? Williams tells me that was a mistake.

"That might be a misinterpretation there where we worked on that and looking at that page we need to get that corrected," Williams said.

Williams claims the money reported in the tax return are disbursements - not diversions. He says his group plays by the book and wouldn't intentionally misuse funds.

"We don't have nothing to hide. It's wide open, everything is open. The checkbook is there and my treasurer can go right through his book. Everything you need to know about it he can tell you what date it was issued and what is was done for," Williams said.

We placed calls to the state attorney general's office and the prosecutor's office in Saginaw. So far no return calls at this time.

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