Authorities are investigating a founder of the Omaha Sports Academy youth basketball program in connection with the theft of hundreds of thousands of dollars meant for the business.
Officials are collecting records and looking into the financial activity of Bob Franzese, said Douglas County Attorney Don Kleine. Franzese, 48, who was co-owner and general manager of OSA, was removed from the program in April.
Kleine said investigators suspect Franzese was using the money for gambling.
Willie Douglas, co-owner of Fast Break Sports LLC, told Omaha police on June 22 that the alleged embezzlement occurred from December 2016 to this April.
Fast Break Sports LLC is the limited liability company associated with OSA and Predator Basketball League, according to Nebraska secretary of state records.
Franzese, who had as much as a 25% ownership stake in OSA, was removed as general manager in April.
The alleged theft was discovered as part of a recent audit.
Franzese is well known in the local youth basketball community, which has exploded over the years. A 2019 World-Herald article noted that the Omaha Sports Academy league consisted of 600 local teams. At the time, OSA itself fielded 60 teams — 45 boys and 15 girls — third through eighth grade. “That’s without high school club teams …” the article said.