Families Say ‘Coach' Took Off With Football League Fees

Families who signed their sons up for youth football claim a coach cheated them out of hundreds of dollars.

After one football game, the Hawthorne Jaguars were booted from their league because the coach didn’t pay the league fee.

"We used to do a little chant," said Jaheim Hendrix, who played on the team.

"Jaguar nation, what time is it?" Hendrix said the chant began. 'Time to go hard, time to represent. It's time to show these cats how hard we can hit."

But that's the last football game Hendrix will play this season, leaving him and his teammates crushed.

"He let a lot of kids down," parent Japheth Peleti said.

"Where is the money, when can I get my money back?" parent Lorraine Albritton said.

Parents blame coach Roger Hunter, who was paid $250 per child and told the team would complete in the "Valley Youth Conference."

One parent told NBC4 Hunter personally recruited the boys to play on the team — in one case at a school during registration.

"He was like, 'Hey man, you're pretty big. You want to play some football?" said Socorro Pacheco, who was in line registering for classes with her son Daniel.

Parent Stephanie Hendrix said she met Hunter after her son was recorded playing street ball.

"Whoever filmed him put him on the Internet and this guy appeared at my door," she said.

The Hawthorne Jaguars’ one game was played Sept. 19, before the league told consumer investigator Randy Mac Hunter was sent a letter explaining the team had been kicked out. Among the reasons for removal of the team was nonpayment of application and certification fees.

According to parents, Hunter never answered their questions about the status of the team. All they have to show for their $250 fee is old, tattered youth football equipment.

"It was all damaged equipment," Peleti said. "[The helmet] looked like it was spray painted. The pads — it's all junk."

Hunter returned a call from the I-Team’s Randy Mac saying he had a “deal” with the Valley Youth Conference, but wouldn’t explain further. Hunter claimed he was able to enter the team into another youth football league, but parents balked at participating.

"Unfortunately, it happens more than people think," said Patrick Escobar of the LA84 Foundation, a nonprofit organization that funds youth sports programs. "We recommend people always go to established organizations and not individuals."

Red flags include individuals recruiting students, asking for cash instead of a check and lacking permits for practices and games, according to Escobar.

The Valley Youth Conference said Hunter never secured a home field for games.

The city of Long Beach Parks, Recreation & Marine division confirmed Hunter paid $520 for a permit to practice at Coolidge Park, and it's the second time he's had a team there.

Unable to get their money back from Hunter, some parents are now suing the Valley Youth Conference in small claims court to get their money back. The Conference, however, told NBC4 it only received $64 total from Hunter, and doesn’t know where the rest of the parents’ money went.

Devastated the season is over, Socorro Pacheco’s son Daniel doesn’t know if he’ll ever want to play football again.

"I don't even want to do it anymore," he said.

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