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Kroks Say Senior To Repay $3000

Members Say Funds Misused by Kimball

By Andrew L. Wright

The general manager of the Harvard Krokodiloes resigned last spring after he paid for approximately $3000 in personal items with the singing group's checks and credit card, students familiar with the case said.

Kyle E. Kimball '95, a Lowell House resident, is currently repaying the money, the students said. Kimball wrote checks to himself and charged various personal items, including clothing from a Gap store in his home state of Kansas, according to the students.

The students, several of whom are former and current Kroks, said they spoke anonymously because the office of Dean of Students Archie C. Epps III instructed them not to comment.

In discussing Kimball's case, Kroks members were quick to add that the alleged mishandling of money was only one factor in his decision to leave the group. Several members also said they did not think Kimball had taken the money maliciously.

"This wasn't a case of criminal intent or negligence," said a former Kroks member, who spoke on condition of anonymity. "Kyle just got in over his head, and he may have misunderstood where the line is between what's right and what's wrong."

Kimball refused to comment for this article.

"What your article is writing about is really of no concern to me so I'm not going to be available for comment," Kimball said in an answering machine message.

Matthew B. Colangelo '96, the group's current general manager and spokesperson, said the group handled Kimball's situation appropriately.

"The issue is an internal issue which has been dealt with appropriately," Colangelo said. "The Kroks, like any other business organization, have protective measures in place as far as their finances are concerned."

Several Kroks said they reached an amicable settlement with Kimball. The agreement required that the former general manager pay the group back for his expenses.

"Kyle Kimball is a good guy who put his best effort in the Kroks, but inevitably, a new manager has to deal with problems beyond his experience," said Kimball's predecessor, former Krok general manager Stephen S. Fleming '93. "In most ways, he did a fine job and was a good manager of the Kroks."

Fleming, who was contacted by phone at his residence in Japan, declined to comment further about the alleged mishandling of money.

Group members said a cash shortfall of about $15,000 was discovered when Kroks were planning their 1994 summer tour.

The group held fewer concerts in the preceding year, and the resulting lower revenues caused most of the shortfall.

In going over the books, however, the Kroks discovered approximately $3,000 for which Kimball could not account, members said.

When several of the group's older members confronted Kimball about the missing money, he was at first evasive but soon acknowledged that "there were some loans, but that he planned to pay them back," according to one student who was present.

The case was turned over to the Administrative Board, members said.

Dean of Students Archie C. Epps III said in an interview Monday that he could not discuss the matter.

"If there were an allegation we could not talk about it publicly, but, of course, if there were such an allegation we would take it very seriously," Epps said.

Virginia L. Mackay-Smith '78, secretary to the Administrative Board, also declined to comment.

Group members and students familiar with the incident said that when the Kroks discovered the cash shortfall in the spring, they called on longtime sponsors of the group to help contribute to make up the difference.

MIT Professor John Donovan, a longtime Krok sponsor who hires the group to entertain clients nearly every week, gave the group an advance payment to make certain the singers could still keep most of their tour engagements, students said.

Donovan was out of the country this week and could not be reached for comment. Tearty Bartley, the director of corporate hospitality at Donovan's company, said only: "That's something you want to talk with Matt [Colangelo] about."

The Kroks also scaled back part of their summer tour and didn't make a planned South American leg of the trip because of a lack of money, students said.

But members stressed that the money Kimball spent was only a minor factor in the decision to scale down the trip.

Kimball has been a prominent student on campus. He is active in Democratic politics and ran--unsuccessfully--for senior class marshal this year.

'Every Penny'

Fleming said the group had a functioning system of accounting in place when Kimball took over.

"During the tenure of my predecessor and my term as manager, we followed scrupulous accounting procedures. We documented every penny that came in and that went out," Fleming said. "The system had been put in place and what happened during the '93-'94 school year was in the context of a functioning system."

Several members of the group said new accounting procedures have been put into place to prevent a similar situation from happening again.

Still, members said, the job of the general manager involves spending quite a bit of money and inappropriate expenses can get lost in the jumble of normal business operations.

"This whole incident merely reflects the vicissitudes of the finances of a small company and the general level of inexperience," one source said. "Inevitably, a certain level of confusion is going to arise."

Epps said the Kroks, like several other student groups, submit annual financial statements to the College. Independent auditing, the dean said, is unnecessary.

A handful of campus organizations, including the Independent and the Harvard Band, are also registered with the state Office of Public Charities, which monitors non-profit groups.

"Any student group should not be so unsupervised," said a former Krok. "There is the potential for little crises like these still out there. It's always going to be possible."

No Comment

One student said a "shroud of silence" descended over the issue once College officials became involved.

Asked whether he was responsible for the secrecy, Epps said: "In a case where it is not clear what happened we might tell them that it is best not to comment.

Group members said a cash shortfall of about $15,000 was discovered when Kroks were planning their 1994 summer tour.

The group held fewer concerts in the preceding year, and the resulting lower revenues caused most of the shortfall.

In going over the books, however, the Kroks discovered approximately $3,000 for which Kimball could not account, members said.

When several of the group's older members confronted Kimball about the missing money, he was at first evasive but soon acknowledged that "there were some loans, but that he planned to pay them back," according to one student who was present.

The case was turned over to the Administrative Board, members said.

Dean of Students Archie C. Epps III said in an interview Monday that he could not discuss the matter.

"If there were an allegation we could not talk about it publicly, but, of course, if there were such an allegation we would take it very seriously," Epps said.

Virginia L. Mackay-Smith '78, secretary to the Administrative Board, also declined to comment.

Group members and students familiar with the incident said that when the Kroks discovered the cash shortfall in the spring, they called on longtime sponsors of the group to help contribute to make up the difference.

MIT Professor John Donovan, a longtime Krok sponsor who hires the group to entertain clients nearly every week, gave the group an advance payment to make certain the singers could still keep most of their tour engagements, students said.

Donovan was out of the country this week and could not be reached for comment. Tearty Bartley, the director of corporate hospitality at Donovan's company, said only: "That's something you want to talk with Matt [Colangelo] about."

The Kroks also scaled back part of their summer tour and didn't make a planned South American leg of the trip because of a lack of money, students said.

But members stressed that the money Kimball spent was only a minor factor in the decision to scale down the trip.

Kimball has been a prominent student on campus. He is active in Democratic politics and ran--unsuccessfully--for senior class marshal this year.

'Every Penny'

Fleming said the group had a functioning system of accounting in place when Kimball took over.

"During the tenure of my predecessor and my term as manager, we followed scrupulous accounting procedures. We documented every penny that came in and that went out," Fleming said. "The system had been put in place and what happened during the '93-'94 school year was in the context of a functioning system."

Several members of the group said new accounting procedures have been put into place to prevent a similar situation from happening again.

Still, members said, the job of the general manager involves spending quite a bit of money and inappropriate expenses can get lost in the jumble of normal business operations.

"This whole incident merely reflects the vicissitudes of the finances of a small company and the general level of inexperience," one source said. "Inevitably, a certain level of confusion is going to arise."

Epps said the Kroks, like several other student groups, submit annual financial statements to the College. Independent auditing, the dean said, is unnecessary.

A handful of campus organizations, including the Independent and the Harvard Band, are also registered with the state Office of Public Charities, which monitors non-profit groups.

"Any student group should not be so unsupervised," said a former Krok. "There is the potential for little crises like these still out there. It's always going to be possible."

No Comment

One student said a "shroud of silence" descended over the issue once College officials became involved.

Asked whether he was responsible for the secrecy, Epps said: "In a case where it is not clear what happened we might tell them that it is best not to comment.

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