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July 12, 2005

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“As I recall from the period Steve Sprague resigned, the charges were not bogus. He admitted his wrong doing. In other words, President Young at the time caught him with his hand in the cookie jar - something to the tune of 20k. Other officers including our own Bailey have gone to jail for this and Sprague barely escaped that because he started paying it back. What had transpired was reported fully at my conference and the convention. I checked and a lot of this is in the IEB Special Meeting minutes of March 1999.”

“Bogus” was a poor choice of words. “Politically motivated” is more accurate. Young did indeed find some improper charges in Sprague’s credit card. They came at a very convenient time for Young, as he had grown to loath Sprague, and he lost no time in filing charges with the IEB (which were never heard, by the way).

As for Sprague “admitting his wrongdoing,” he actually wrote “…I want you all to know that I have taken this action voluntarily, and as a result of what I believe to have been conduct unbecoming my position as the AFM's chief financial officer. I have unintentionally breached the fiscal trust you have conveyed upon me, for which I believe there is no excuse that could ever condone or forgive such conduct.”

The key word is “unintentionally,” and, given what little I know about the nature and timing of the transactions in question, I believe it. I also believe that he was right to resign. But there are still some questions in my mind. Would this have led to Sprague’s resignation had Steve Young not been out to get him? Were Sprague’s actions criminal? (I suspect that, if they had been, the AFM and B&K would have been legally bound to inform the relevant authorities.) And do we know the whole story, or just the history that the victors wrote? I have some recollection of a rumor about Sprague filing some kind of civil action against the AFM over his departure and a subsequent settlement. But there’s no mention of that in the IEB minutes, unless it’s buried under the “executive session” gravestone. And it may well have been just a rumor.

Mr. Observer you stated:
"Or maybe not. Steve Sprague wasn’t an accountant either, but he seemed to do OK. And his annual reports were generally on time, and his financial reports were actually understandable and revealing about how the AFM spent its money. Of course Steve was railroaded out of the AFM on what now appear to be largely bogus charges."

As I recall from the period Steve Sprague resigned, the charges were not bogus. He admitted his wrong doing. In other words, President Young at the time caught him with his hand in the cookie jar - something to the tune of 20k. Other officers including our own Bailey have gone to jail for this and Sprague barely escaped that because he started paying it back. What had transpired was reported fully at my conference and the convention. I checked and a lot of this is in the IEB Special Meeting minutes of March 1999. It was too bad because I really liked Steve Sprague a lot. He did get all of the required reports out early or on time with more details. He was much better than Florence or Lee ever were in trying to do the same thing.

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