Organizers of the poorly managed World OutGames Miami will not face criminal charges after police and prosecutors agreed there’s no evidence that anyone intended to fleece athletes or donors for personal gain.
Miami Beach Police Chief Daniel Oates informed City Manager Jimmy Morales early Wednesday that detectives worked with the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office to determine “there was no evidence found to proceed with a criminal prosecution.”
Oates sent the memo Wednesday morning, a day after city auditors released the results of a review of the OutGames books, which revealed seriously mismanaged finances, failed fundraising and that nearly half of the total expenses were spent on consultant fees and promotion.
A summary memo from the lead Beach detective explains the reason no charges will be filed:
“Per the audit review, the financial records did not show the malicious intent to deprive funds from donors for personal gain,” reads the memo.
Oates said state prosecutors are in agreement that criminal charges are not appropriate.
The audit findings, released Tuesday, painted a picture of a doomed event largely run by two men: CEO Ivan Cano and Chief Operating Officer Keith Hart. They consistently missed fundraising goals, took on sizable debt and had no virtually no oversight from a board of directors that had inconsistent membership and rarely met.
The review period covered February 2013 through June 2017. During that time, Cano received $106,992 in consulting fees for his work. Other contractors received smaller payments for non-sporting events that went on as planned, such as a human rights conference and cultural gatherings.
But most of the sports competitions, along with the opening and closing ceremonies, were canceled at the last minute on May 26 amid a financial meltdown. Only a few competitions, including swimming, took place. Immediately following the cancellations, police opened an investigation.
At the center of the mess are disappointed athletes — some from as far away as Australia — who expected a professional sporting competition and found a debacle instead. Some went home, while others worked with officials from Miami Beach’s parks department to organize impromptu tournaments. Tourism officials helped put on social events and a closing ceremony.
For years, World OutGames Miami was billed as an LGBTQ-themed sports and cultural event that would attract more than 10,000 athletes from all over the world. In the end, 2,180 athletes registered. In the months leading up to the fiasco, the event budget shrank.
More than $90,000 was lost on nonrefundable deposits for Marlins Park stadium and The Fillmore Miami Beach, venues leased for OutGames activities that were canceled.
Organizers appeared desperate to salvage an event despite the grim finances. Hart, the COO, received no consulting fee and accumulated $94,000 in personal debt on his American Express card to cover some of the mounting costs.
OutGames still owes hundreds of thousands to hotels, vendors and even the organization that licenses the name “OutGames” to local entities to stage events. The local organization set up to produce the OutGames owes the Canada-based Gay and Lesbian International Sport Association $81,541 in licensing fees.
One of the hotels, the Courtyard Miami Coconut Grove, is suing organizers for breach of contract after the OutGames failed to pay $69,861 in fees for 384 unused hotel rooms in a 925-room block that was negotiated in December 2016. The suit was filed in July in Miami-Dade County civil court.