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Wendy Reuer, Published March 01 2012

Derby Girls accuse member of thefts

FARGO – A local roller derby league claims a forensic audit shows one of its members stole more than $10,000 from the organization.

Tyia Patnaude, head of marketing and public relations for the Fargo Moorhead Derby Girls, said the league discovered something was amiss in October and hired a forensic auditor, Fargo-based Eide Bailly, to conduct an audit. The audit revealed the alleged theft from the Derby Girls, which is a nonprofit.

“It’s really like a kick to the groin,” Patnaude said.

The Derby Girls then asked the Fargo police to investigate, she said. Donna Donley, Derby Girls president, said on Thursday that the police forwarded a report to Cass County prosecutors last week.

Patnaude didn’t disclose the team member’s name or the exact amount she is accused of stealing. She did say the former member has hired an attorney and is disputing the allegations.

She said the Derby Girls wanted to make sure one member’s actions were not reflecting poorly back onto the team as a whole.

“We don’t want anyone thinking this is the end of the Derby Girls – because it’s not,” Patnaude said.

None of the 60 members hold paid positions. The Derby Girls’ annual expenses total more than $143,000, which includes mostly advertising and rental of the Fargo Civic Center, where bouts are held, Patnaude said. The team has had to forgo much of its advertising this year to account for the budget losses, she said.

“We have had an uphill battle,” Patnaude said. “It has damaged our attendance because we can’t get our word out.”

Money raised at each bout is donated back to the community to one major charity per bout. Each member also volunteers time with nonprofits around the area.

Donley said that although it has been difficult for skaters who feel betrayed, the incident may bring the team together even more.

“We’ve all been working really hard. It’s inspired all of us to do the best we can,” Donley said. “We just really had to cut our expenses to pretty much nothing.”

Patnaude said in a news release that the incident has spurred the league to develop a system of cross-checking its finances.

The league’s next bout is 7 p.m. Saturday at the Civic Center against teams from Grand Rapids, Minn., and Sioux City, Iowa.


Readers can reach Forum reporter Wendy Reuer at (701) 241-5530