Brice Burge bound over to circuit court

Defense attorney George Hyde, right, speaks during a preliminary exam in Marquette County District Court as his client Brice Burge looks on. Burge is accused of embezzling money from the nonprofit hockey team the Marquette Mutineers, and was bound over to circuit court Wednesday. (Journal photo by Ryan Jarvi)

MARQUETTE — Brice Burge, former general manager of the nonprofit hockey organization the Marquette Mutineers, was bound over Wednesday to Marquette County Circuit Court on embezzlement charges.

Burge, 29, was arrested April 1 on a two count felony warrant for embezzlement of $1,000 to $20,000 from a nonprofit or charitable organization and for stealing/retaining a financial transaction device without consent.

The preliminary examination originally began late May in Marquette County District Court, but was in recess until Wednesday.

Gary Enright, chairman of the nonprofit’s board, testified that Burge discussed his compensation with other board members and that the defendant understood he would be paid $1,000 at the end of the season.

“We were under the impression that it was going to be done at the end of the year when we saw where we were at with the money,” Enright said.

BURGE

Enright also testified that when board members learned of money issues, he confronted Burge about missing funds and the defendant admitted to mishandling the team’s money. He also said Burge made attempts to repay the money.

Burge allegedly wasn’t told by the board what he would be compensated and told police that he thought he would be reconciled at the end of the season for purchases he made with the team’s money.

“He had indicated that he was not told what his compensation would be and that he had tried to get an answer on that, but the board didn’t meet or didn’t discuss it, and so … what he was told by Mr. Enright over the course of the season was to make it work, and he took that … comment as permission to make these charges,” said Detective Chris Aldrich, with the Marquette Police Department.

Aldrich said Burge admitted to spending slightly more than $3,000 of unauthorized expenses using the team’s debit card, though the hockey team’s board members said that sum was more than $5,000.

Aldrich said he thought Burge believed the team would “reconcile the differences” and “take whatever charges he had made off of his salary or compensation.”

“He claimed that he did not feel he did anything wrong,” Aldrich added.

Aldrich said Burge indicated he made two repayments of the money he used.

Judge Roger Kangas said, according to testimony, that Burge admitted to making $3,000 in unauthorized purchases — more than $2,000 what he was allegedly supposed to be compensated.

“That’s a lot to take on the ‘make it work’ statement alone,” Kangas said. “I don’t think that’s enough to say today, ‘Well, make it work means you get to take what you need.’ In terms of theft, I think … a fair number of embezzlement cases … start out with the defendant utilizing assets from a principal or employer with the full, solid wholehearted intention to put it back. But it’s still embezzlement.”

Burge was scheduled for arraignment in circuit court at 10:30 a.m. Aug. 4.

Ryan Jarvi can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 270. His email address is rjarvi@miningjournal.net.