Milford Mustangs replace board of directors

MILFORD – The Mustangs football and cheerleading program is signing up children for the fall season with a new board of directors in place after all but one of the former members were asked to resign.

Under an agreement filed in Merrimack County Superior Court between the board members and the Charitable Trust Unit of the state Attorney General’s Office, 11 members of the board had to resign, and five new board members were appointed.

The nonprofit children’s sports organization got into trouble for failing to file three years’ worth of financial reports with the state. In March, the Charitable Trust Unit asked the court to revoke the Mustangs’ nonprofit status and dissolve the corporation.

“They are working on a transition,” Thomas Donovan, attorney with the Charitable Trust Unit, said Wednesday, July 19. “We filed a stipulation with the court and all the directors and I signed an agreement, and we’re asking the judge to sign off on it.”

Among those asked to resign was Christopher McNeil, president of the board, who was also fined a civil penalty of $10,000.

Under the agreement, signed July 19, McNeil and 10 other board members for the Milford Mustangs Youth Football and Cheerleading Association may not serve as officers or directors and may not handle the finances of any New Hampshire charitable organization for two years, although the director of charitable trusts can waive that stipulation on a case-by-case basis.

Michael Hannon, one of the new directors and also the new president of the Amherst LaCrosse Club, said he has a 9-year-old son who wants to play football.

“I was asked to help out,” Hannon said.

A good number of kids have signed up, he said last week, and he has high hopes for the program.

“The more people involved, the more ideas, the more accountability,” he said.

Other board members are Charles Vitali, Jayma Walker, Peter Tremblay and Gail Gagnon.

The only former board member allowed on the new board is Gagnon, who was the only one who responded to a court summons in March.

The AG’s final decree says McNeil objected to his financial penalty, and the issue may be heard at a later date.

The agreement also stipulates that the former board members should cooperate with the new board to create a smooth transition, and the Mustangs will be subject to increased oversight by the Charitable Trusts director for two years.

The transition includes turning over to the new board bank account and password information; assets, including cash and equipment; participant and fundraising information; and accounting information.

After years of complaints by parents about the organization’s governance, including a lack of transparency and “bullying” by board members, the Charitable Trust Unit investigated the operations of the board that existed in 2010-11.

A final report by the state noted a lack of record keeping and accounting systems, and concluded that training was key.

“The most important, immediate, and on-going requirement for any well-functioning Board of Directors is training,” it said. “Nonprofit boards consist of volunteers who do not always understand the duties and responsibilities associated with serving as a director. This organization is no exception.”

Kathy Cleveland can be reached at 673-3100 or kcleveland@cabinet.com.