Booking photo of Craig Maass, former president of the Oakland Hills Caddie Scholarship Fund. He had been arrested for embezzling nearly $700k from the trust for his own personal use
A trustee at an elite Michigan country club pleaded no contest to stealing $700k from the club’s golf caddy scholarship fund, claiming his alcohol addiction was so ‘out of control’ that he doesn’t even know what he spent the ill-gotten money on.
Craig A. Maass, a former member of The Oakland Hills Country Club, ultimately spent the money on ‘supporting a lifestyle he could no longer afford, including gambling at a Detroit casino and trips to Vegas,’ according to Detroit News.
On Thursday, the 62-year-old president and former trustee of the club’s caddie college scholarship fund entered the no contest plea during a Zoom pre-trial hearing before Oakland County Circuit Judge Yasmine Yoles, with sentencing scheduled for 9am on August 30, the outlet reports.
Although a no contest plea is not technically an admission of guilt, in the courts system it is typically used as if it was a guilty plea, in regards to sentencing.
‘No caddie was ever deprived of a scholarship,’ insisted Maass, who was charged with six counts of embezzlement over $100k for writing six checks from the scholarship fund to his personal bank account between November 2018 and July 2019.
Maass, who now works at a gas station for $12 an hour, added: ‘The account was always well-funded, and they were insured for any losses.’
The club has about 550 members with a $72,000 initiation fee and $8,400-plus per year in fees and dues, according to membership documents.
A 2013 family Craig Maass and his daughter during a Detroit Lions game at Ford Field, Detroit, one of two adult daughters who Maass says ‘won’t talk to me’ after embezzlement charges
‘He has always from the beginning of the allegations accepted responsibility for this,’ said Maass’s lawyer, Clarence Dass.
‘He was always going to plead no contest. It was not a matter of guilt or not guilty for him. It was a matter of the restitution that he owed back to Oakland Hills. He has always been willing to make things right for Oakland Hills.’
Maass’ downfall from his country club presidency began after fellow trustees with the club’s caddy scholarship discovered irregularities in the fund’s account while preparing the IRS 990 form required for nonprofits back in July 2019.
Maass, who called the country club a ‘second home,’ was banned from the premises that same month.
Officials at Oakland Hills requested a forensic audit, which revealed $697,000 had been embezzled and converted for Maass’ personal use. Board members then called the Oakland County Sheriff’s Office, police said.
Daas says his client tried to ‘to give them the money back,’ but club officials refused to talk with Maass, and ultimately went forward with reporting the missing money to authorities.
He was arrested in January 2020 and remained behind bars until April 2020, when he was released from jail due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The disgraced former trustee told the Detroit News that his alcoholism was ‘out of control’ at the time he was embezzling the funds, and was so drunk he couldn’t even remember what he had spent the nearly $700k on.
The club has about 550 members with a $72,000 initiation fee and $8,400-plus per year in fees and dues, according to membership documents
Maass also blamed the failure of his consulting business after selling off his father’s pump distributing and servicing business, American Controls Inc., in 2017, as well as the COVID-related deaths of his mother and best friend, according to the news outlet.
He was recently served divorce paperwork from his wife while behind bars, with his attorney stating ‘he gave her everything, including the house.’
‘My wife left me, I have two adult daughters who won’t talk to me,’ Maass told the Detroit News. ‘I’m sorry for what I’ve put them all through.’
Meanwhile, Assistant Oakland County Prosecutor Robert Novy told Judge Yoles during Thursday’s hearing that he will be recommending prison time for Maass when he is sentenced next month.
Daas states he believes his client should receive a lighter punishment than the felony’s maximum 20-year prison sentence, considering his otherwise nonexistent criminal record.
‘My hope is that the judge will consider not incarcerating him especially since he’s not had a bond violation and is willing to make things right,’ Dass said.
For his part, Maass states the money he stole is far less than what he’s accused of taking, saying he was ‘owed money from the club’ for fundraising expenses as well as his own membership fees.
The 62-year-old was banned from the club in July 2019 after financial irregularities were found in the fund’s account while officials prepared the IRS form required for nonprofits