Club Controversy: Adults Fight Over Money, Power and Basketball

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    NEWSLETTERS

    News4 I-Team

    For decades, kids have been going to the Laurel Boys and Girls Club to play basketball and partake in other after-school activities, but the News4 I-Team discovered a club being torn apart by adults fighting over money, power and basketball.

    Overseeing it all, Levet Brown.

    Club Controversy: Adults Fight Over Money, Power and Basketball

    [DC] Club Controversy: Adults Fight Over Money, Power and Basketball
    The News4 I-Team’s Tisha Thompson takes you inside a kids’ club being torn apart by adults fighting over money, power and basketball. (Published Monday, Jun 23, 2014)

    "I'm a staunch believer of the Boys and Girls Club,” Brown told us. “I was raised through the Boys and Girls Club. My mother ran it for 30 years."

    Unaffiliated with the national Boys and Girls Club organization, this local club is technically run by a president and a board of directors.

    But Brown makes no bones about it. "My name is on the credit card.” And that, he said, means he’s in charge. “That’s a fair statement.”

    The club’s former athletic director, Adrian Rousseau, told the I-Team he’s worried Brown has too much control. “Mr. Brown runs everything. Every deposit, every transaction, everything runs through him."

    Rousseau said with that much control, no one really knows where the club’s money goes.

    The News4 I-Team first met Rousseau a year and a half ago after receiving complaints people were living inside the club's locker room. At Brown's direction, Rousseau showed us around the club, explaining kids would sometimes crash on the locker room's couch.

    But when we asked if anyone actually lived there, Rousseau insisted, “No. No one lives here."

    But since that interview, the I-Team has found inspection records showing three high school-aged teenagers living in the locker room for months in what fire inspectors labeled "unsafe" conditions, including no windows, shoddy wiring, and multiple kerosene and propane tank heaters.

    Records show it's happened at least four different times, most recently this past May, when four more people were found living in the building's annex.

    “I knew we were wrong,” Rousseau since admitted to the I-Team. Both he and Brown said the people living inside were often high school students who had nowhere else to live.

    Rousseau said people have been living in the club on and off for years and he’s now willing to talk about what’s really happening inside because he’s concerned Brown is spending too much of the club's money on Laurel Prep Academy, a new basketball prep school Brown also runs.

    Rousseau said Brown and the prep team were, “going to games, spending funds on hotels and meals and travel, and we didn't have toilet paper in our building. We didn't have heat for our kids. We didn't have uniforms for our kids."

    In response, Brown showed us some of his financial paperwork, which shows he does use club money to pay for Laurel Prep.

    But he said the real reason kids didn't get their uniforms this year is because of the club's outstanding $34,000 water bill.

    Brown said he's been forced to dip into his personal savings to pay the bills. "I went into my retirement and took over $40,000 out of that."

    It still might not be enough to keep the doors open. The I-Team found the club's building has received multiple fire and building code violations in the past few years.

    It's also a registered historical landmark. Earlier this year, the Maryland Historical Trust found "the property in such poor condition," "unsecured and unattended" with a "very real" "threat of vandalism and fire."