Columbia Club Foundation says funds stolen by director

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A director of the foundation that supports the Columbia Club in downtown Indianapolis was caught stealing funds, the not-for-profit says.

Club president Miles D. Schroeder, a local dentist, informed members of the theft in a letter dated Jan. 25.

The letter does not name the director nor does it specify how much was taken. When reached by phone, Schroeder declined to divulge further details.

Foundation president Gerald Lamkin, a former president of Ivy Tech Community College, referred questions to Schroeder.

The foundation is not pursuing legal charges against the accused director, according to the letter.

“The foundation has represented to us that it is currently conducting an audit and obtaining restitution from the individual who misappropriated the funds,” Schroeder wrote to members.

The foundation issued an additional statement Tuesday afternoon via e-mail: "When the Columbia Club Foundation recently became aware of a theft of funds by one individual at the Foundation, we took immediate action and began a thorough investigation which is still underway. The majority of the stolen funds have been recovered and the Foundation is currently working to recover the remaining funds. In addition, the Foundation is strengthening its policies and procedures to ensure this does not happen again."

The foundation has struggled financially in recent years. In 2008, the most current year in which a Form 990 financial statement is available, it reported a loss of $51,583 on revenue of $31,022. The foundation reported assets of $580,531.

The foundation was founded in 1983, shortly after the Columbia Club building on Monument Circle was listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Its mission is “to restore, preserve and protect the exterior facade of the historic clubhouse by encouraging contributions and through the development of an adequate endowment,” according to its website.

It remains a separate entity from the club and maintains its own management, governance and finances.

“No club employees, officers or directors were involved, implicit or implicated in the theft in any regard,” Schroeder said in the letter. “Further, no club funds were mishandled, misappropriated or misused at any time.”

Still, the club’s board of directors takes the theft by “this individual” very seriously and will provide members an update once more information becomes available, he said.

The Columbia Club, a private social and business-networking club, is led by James Rentschler, who became general manager in 2009. At the time of his arrival, it had just 1,600 members, 24 percent fewer than in 2007, and about half its peak count in the late 1990s.

The Columbia Club was originally organized in 1889 by Col. Eli Lilly to support Gen. Benjamin Harrison’s presidential campaign.




  • Keep Bird-dogging Brizzi and "walk the perp" for new transgressions
    Primarily to the great IBJ "nose for news" and its journalistically great job of tying tin can on ex-prosecur Brizzi (while the local daily "news" medium sat on its hands and only followed where IBJ led!)

    I am surprised to see another Brizzi moral shortcut go un-noted--i.e.--in the past few months Brizzi refused to comment or discuss a story that broke on his watch with local Channels 6/l3 etc---which quoted him as saying he had been "retained" exclusively by a competing news channel. (Disappointing because this particular Channel to date has been ethically and journalistically sound.)

    Does not anyone else see a conflict when a tax-paid ex-prosecutor sells his taxpayer-paid past information for dough? But that's par for the course for this coarse and exploitive prosecutor who grandstanded "walking the perp" for media without any regard for the "innocent until proven guilty" concept he was sworn to support.
    Re Other Directors--Did anybody consider when making decision to publish the offense--but NOT name the offender--that in so doing, in designating only as one of the directors, it was unfairly protecting the guilty but "broad-brush" tarring all those honest, dedicated volunteer Directors who are blameless-but certainly NOT nameless? Just a thought....clearly many of us DO know the name of the guilty--but ALL THE READING PUBLIC of IBJ does NOT. (Congrats to IBJ for reporting local news--307 N. Penn take note.)
  • alway had good experiences at Columbia Club valet
    I have had great experiences with the Valet at Columbia Club, and have used it regularly for the last 10 years without incident.....
  • Downtown in decline
    Problems at the once prestigous Columbia Club are symptomatic of a general decline in downtown after dark. City leaders need to set about correcting this before we get a reputation like Cincinnati developed.
  • Amount?
    So the valets are reckless and the management is iffy, on to the important stuff: how much money was embezzled?
  • Vroom. Vroom. Woops!
    Sorry Mr. English, but getting responsible and honest valets at the Club has been an issue since they tried to trust 16-year-olds to stable the horses and carriages without re-enacting a 'Ben Hur' scene around Monument Circle.

    Ask one of the older members to share details about the time in the 1990's when two young Club valets over-estimated their driving abilities with one going up and one down in the old AFNB parking garage on Penn and crashed two members' cars head on! The chief valet at the time told me of being summoned to tell the waiting vehicle owner 'due to unforeseen circumstances there will be a delay in getting your car'. The owner staying overnight probably learned the next day unless he heard the crash which was described as horrific as it echoed around the concrete structure. The Club quickly got nice rentals arranged and accepted full responsibility regardless of what the 'get out of jail pass' they use as a parking claim check says.

    My personal Club valet experience was when they accepted my luxury car on the night preceding the Brickyard 400 and the next morning it was found in the garage with glass everywhere and broken window, pry marks around the door, my cell phone and prescription sunglasses missing.

    On Monday I reported it to the General Manager at the time, just to make sure he knew and expecting the Club's insurance would cover my $500 deductible on $1900 auto damage and he said a quick "NO". Months later I learned from another member that he had been reimbursed for his deductible in a subsequent car break-in so it can be who you are or who they 'think' you are and how tough you are willing to get with them.

    Lesson learned: in future visits till I resigned I never let them valet the car and parked it on Penn at no cost then got up early to feed the meter when required. Why pay the stiff fee plus tip and run the risk of them having a 'night on the town' or tip off one of their buddies that a hot car is in the lot?

    I hope you are compensated for your losses in the end. Our police and military members should be treated with the extra respect and courtesy as all members should but it is a hard lesson for the club to comprehend.
  • Sad but predicatable
    After decades of loyal membership and service to the Columbia Club,I resigned recently in total frustration with the way the Club and Foundation were being managed by their respective boards. I assure you in addition to many members around the state, there are fine and honorable board members who are sad, embarrassed, and frustrated at this latest, inexcusable lapse in non-profit management. Most members are just displaying their loyalty by trying to preserve the traditions and enjoy the long and deep friendships cultivated there. However, they resist stepping up & taking real control of the two organizations from a couple handfuls of entrenched,self-serving, power-seeking officers, sycophants and scoundrels who year after year mismanage such an important, proud and historic organization. Most but certainly not all of the names have been identified in earlier Comments.

    (The Club has been careening out of control since the late 90's and the challenging economy only exacerbates the problems along following a decade of abominable management, wholesale firings of the most talented staffers for suggesting best-practices from the club/hospitality industries, and a failure to learn any lessons from the unfortunate demise of the Indpls. Athletic Club. Given the state of many private clubs, the CC's years with an aging membership are numbered ---it is too easy for younger people to take hard-earned dollars that would go to dues and initiations fees and spend them in the hottest restaurants, fitness centers, bars, and social experiences---Indy has many to choose from, not like the days when you said 'Club, King Cole, Hyatt, and St. Elmos' and had covered almost all the fine options in downtown!

    Thus the future is challenging for amateurs and sadly it is probably just a matter of time till that outstanding property will have to be sold and converted to hotel and condo space with perhaps a room for the few loyal remaining club members to reminisce.

    One of the governance issues is clearly shown by the way in which the announcement of the theft was handled: the Club---not the Foundation from where the funds were stolen-- sent a misguided letter to the members which was predictably forwarded to the press (this reveals the lack of cooperation, trust, and the power struggle between the two which prevents necessary growth). It WAS indicative of their first rule of management "Cover Your A--" which the Club board practiced to perfection. It also indicates the second rule of the CCF ---"Let someone else give the bad news and head to the tropics"! If the Foundation board pulled the same stunt on the Club as they have had numerous opportunities to do, the police might have to be called in to break up the skirmish at 121 Monument Circle! Time to come together.

    This current top leadership and the thief have done immeasurable damage to the proud reputation of a once-revered Club that has had such a positive effect in the life of the members, development of Indianapolis, & the state. I just hope any remaining visionary and honest members will step up and re-take control of their 122 year old club and restore the luster of the glory days that began in February 1889! Good luck.
  • Nothing more than organized thieves.
    After my car had been taken for an all night joyride by the valet here is what I sent to the president of the foundation-

    The date of the incident was 1/15/2011

    At approximately 1630 on 15 January my girlfriend and I pulled up to the front doors of the Columbia Club on Monument Circle where we were staying for the night. I was approached by 3 members of the Valet staff and noticed immediately that they were "Excited" that my car would be spending the night in there hands. I asked that it be parked on the Circle for the duration of the evening so that I would have easy access in case we decided to go somewhere outside of walking distance.

    At approximately 1730 we came down from our room and went to dinner at Weber Grill. Upon returning at 2100 I noticed that my vehicle had been moved and I approached the valet and asked why it was moved and he offered no explanation. I express my displeasure because I had specifically told them not to move the vehicle for fear of "Joy riding."

    At or around 0400 Sunday morning I awoke and sensed that something was not right. I went downstairs and asked the valet to find my car and bring it out of the garage because I needed to get medicine out of the center console. He paused and said that "It would be a few minutes because they would have to find it." This obviously did not make me happy and after nearly 20 minutes of waiting my car came up to the valet at operating temperature (as noted by a bullydog GT tuner that was subsequently stolen). As I tested this morning at 10 degrees outside temperature with the coolant temperature at 51 degrees it took approximately 9 miles to reach a normal operating temperature of roughly 170 Degrees as noted by the digital thermostat located in the vehicle (at highway speed). The same test was done last night at 12 degrees sitting at Idle and it took approximately 22 minutes to arrive at normal operating temperature. Long story short, at less than 1/4 mile from the garage to the front of the club it is impossible to reach that temperature.

    When I reached in my center console @ 0400 I did not notice anything was missing and I told the valet again to leave my vehicle parked on the Circle because it had already been swept and the was no reason for it to be moved. In the course of conversation with the valet he explained to me the value of my car, stating that he was a repo man and he "Popped" these cars all the time and that he has an STI that would "Smoke" my 350Z. He also pointed out his new Dodge Ram parked in valet with a condescending attitude. I smiled and told him not to move my car again and went back up to my room.

    At approximately 1000 on Sunday I went down to the valet desk to request my vehicle noticing that it had again been moved. The three gentleman at the desk laughed and said they were taking bets on when I would be down and they would have to "Find it" again.

    When my car finally showed up I noticed nearly 1/4 of a tank of fuel missing and just assumed that my thoughts of the previous nights shenanigans were true and chose to walk away.

    Upon my return to Bloomington at 1500 I went to switch through my head unit to my ipod and found that there was no Ipod. I checked to see if my engine tuner was there and it too had been removed. I immediately called security @ the club and made report.

    As a 4 year veteran of law enforcement (Police Officer) and a current employee of the Department of Defense both military and civilian I can obviously see the writing on the wall here.

    I noticed a White Iphone 3GS 16 gig, the same phone as stolen from me on craigslist this morning posted yesterday.

    The Columbia Club concluded in their "Internal investigation," that there was no evidence to support (Other than the security tapes that were destroyed) that my car had been taken for an all night joy ride and looted.

    Their insurance company said in a statement of denial, " The parking ticket clearly states the Columbia Club assumes no liability for theft or damage to your vehicle. There is no evidence to support your claim there were personal items left in your vechicle that were stolen during your stay at the Columbia Club."

    $2000.00 in damages later (not to mention the value of items stolen) my vehicle runs properly again.

    This is how good, due paying members are being treated. I wonder how patrons that booked their room on orbitz are treated in this "Members only club." What a joke.
    • To CulverGuy
      I agree, once we have all the facts and details. The individual should have his day in court..........
    • Absolute Disgust
      As a Columbia Club member for quite a few years, I am appalled and disgusted that more swift and appropriate action (ie. prosecution)is not being taken. This "individual" STOLE money, and a sizable amount at that, from the Foundation. What kind of precedent are we establishing here? Apparently it is ok to steal from the Foundation? I am losing respect by the minute for the board and general leadership of our fine, traditional club.
      • Throwing Stones

        "I live according to God's word - I don't judge others like you just did...shame on you!!!"

        You never judge anyone????

        Your post just did!!!
      • Ummm
        I guess there was something of a segue in Lori's post at the beginning.
      • After Tim, Jim, Carl and friends--why not steal in Indiana? You don't get prosecuted!
        Listen folks, why would anyone prosecute any white collar crime in Indianapolis? This is a town where the acting US Attorney "unfroze" months of work by the IRS and DOJ and released Tim Durham to continue spending the last of over $200M of stolen money.

        This is a state where Governor Mitch Daniels and then Prosecutor Carl Brizzi feel they are above the law and do not need to return stolen money donations.

        This is a state where you can participate in the largest insider trading pump in US history and watch only the whistleblower have his securities license investigated while the culprits pocket millions and millions while they point the finger at an innocent insurance adjuster who had the bad fortune to work for the CEO's Dad.

        This is a state where the same county prosecutor can trade on inside information, lie on his divorce filings regarding assets and nothing happens to him. And at hte same time score a no-money down triple net lease on a piece of crap in Elkhart just in time for the state of Indiana to ink a 10 year lease--and pay for repairs needed to put the state office there in the first place!

        Shall I go on?

        If you want to make a difference vote NO for Mitch Daniels. Vote NO for candidates who do not disclose ALL their brokerage and financial records. Picket Tim Morrison and demand he account for failing to arrest Tim Durham and his loser mooch friends.

        Unless, of course, you want to send a signal that white collar crime does pay--cuz in Indianapolis, it sure does.
      • Past Presidents and Life Trustees
        I believe that Past President and Life Trustee on the Foundation did not do their job and should resign..............
      • Reply
        Your right. I am very angry. As you read my comments below you should know why. The topic is how this could have happened and I am still talking about that. All my comments and replys are still on the subject of whats wrong there and how this could have happened. Whoever you may be, if you have knowledge of any of the house problems, you should know the reasons why many of us are not there anymore. Its not because we got fired. We were pushed out because we tired to bring problems to the attention of the board and they decided it would be easier to cover them up over fixing them. Im not saying this mystery theif was right and Im not making excuses for him. What I am saying is this shouldnt have happened if people were doing there jobs like they should. Im up front and stated my name. If you want to continue this like an adult then you should do the same. Dont get mad because Im stating outright facts.
      • Reply to Down with CC
        The original story was about a trustee of the foundation that stole money. You are the one that started discussing the GM. Sounds like a disgruntled former employee that had been manipulating the CC Membership and staff for their own benefit...
      • Your Wrong
        Maybe you shouldnt accuse people of things unless you know your right. I can assure you 100% thats not him. He is just as up front as I am and would have no problem saying his name when he posts something. If you wanna try and down someone you should look in a mirror with your attitude you have towards the man that held the club together for a long period of time and did the job of the GM while he sat back and took all the credit for it. You wanna talk bad about someone then diresct it toward me. At least Im here to defend myself. Fix the problems at hand instead of causing more by pushing rumors and drama.
      • Last Post
        The gentleman that posted that he worked at the CC sounds like the former assistant manager who had close ties to the individual in question on the foundation...
      • Reply
        Thank you very much sir and I would like to think that everything ran smooth on my watch while there. I did everything in my power to make sure that it kept its reputation. I�m taking this as such a personal matter because myself, like my others, loved that place. To see the things that happened there that is leading to its downfall really bothers me. There were some bad employees there that were asked to leave for the right reasons but there were others that were pushed out for the wrong reasons while dealing drugs and stealing was allowed by certain members of management because they knew the right people. That club lost the man that did the GMs job for him and was well respected by almost every member there because of the GMs actions. I agree about not wanting to air dirty laundry but there comes a point when it can no longer stay private in order to make sure the well being of the club is put first. I wish the best for the club and I hope it is able to get back on its feet but I don�t see it happening as long as it is being run by the people that are there now.
      • Concerned Member
        Another Joe...

        I think your comments are correct! The Board of Directors of the Columbia Club and management try very hard, but are not perfect. The CC is operating better than in past years. To bring respect back, all members of the foundation should tender their resignations and start with a clean slate...
      • Hmm
        If you are, indeed, Mr. Richardson then I certainly thank you for the services you provided when you were with the Club. I've always been impressed with the way security works unobtrusively yet effectively. I don't pretend to know the employee-management circumstances that caused you to resign your position. I will say from my personal observations that some of the previous managers/staff (not you) who were released were simply not right for the position.

        As a member -- and, I might add reluctantly as I don't think it particularly important, as one of the people you mention as being "made fun of by the GM" I can only say that I have been entirely unaware of such things and have been treated very well by the GM -- and, of course, the staff.

        It should also be noted that things often appear to be "swept under the rug" so that they don't appear in public, as is now the case with this incident. Any member who frequents the club with any regularity is fully aware of concerns that should be addressed by the Board. The Club in many ways is like a family. Families generally don't air their dirty laundry in public. Frankly, it is no one else's business.

        The Foundation IS separate, both legally and operationally. The board and the Foundation do necessarily work together on some items such as the on-going renovations. The board must approve things that the Foundation proposes that affect the Club's operation. But the Board does not oversee the Foundation's books.

        The Club is not perfect. No organization is. Some things do need to be ironed out as society is changing -- in many ways for the better, in some ways not. I'd rather have the Club than meeting friends in a generic restaurant where the staff changes every week.
        • Board Of Trusteess
          Gerald I. Lamkin, President

          Darrell L. White, Vice President

          Albert W. Zimmerman, Second Vice President

          Michael Burgett, Treasurer

          Cynthia J. Barker

          Greg Bires

          Jeff Brougher

          Joseph F. Ferrara

          Clifford D. Frost

          John C. Green

          Louis S. Hensley, Jr.

          Michael C. Lady

          Robert B. McConnell

          Jack V. Moriarty

          Stephen M. Nash

          William B. Powers

          Henry C. Ryder

          Terry Young
        • Just One Individual
          The Columbia Club has great a great staff that treats members and guests with pride. The Foundation is another story controlled by past-presidents that have their on agenda. The Columbia Club Foundation should be eliminated and the individual prosecuted that had control of the funds
        • Wrong again my friend
          Im sorry sir but you are completely wrong about several things mentioned. There are written documents from former management and
          current management alike of complaints about our GM making sexiest and racist comments and making fun of gay people that are members and employees. I have seen and witnessed this first hand. There have been
          employees and managers that have been asked to leave in the recent past because they brought these problems to the board about the GM and it was all swept under the rug. The board has been covering up for the GM
          there for far to long now. Yes the club should be a Cheers style enviroment but its not. The board also DOES oversee the Foundation. It is not run completely seperate. The members of The Foundation do make choices but almost everything goes through and is approved by the clubs
          board. There are many things that arent seen there and goes on behind closed doors. If you still think he does nothing wrong get ahold of past employees and managers that have quit and see what all their stories have in common. By the way, My name is Mr. Richardson and Im the former Director of Security for the club, that left along with others because of many of the reasons I have stated below that can be backed up with written proof and documentation from employees, management, and members.
          • so sad
            This is truly sad. I worked at the Columbia Club and am one of the many who truly loved the tradition, the elegance, the members and devoted staff of many. I see them listed on discount hotel room sites, opening their doors to anyone who wishes to come in. All of these are counter productive to having a place to call home when not at home. It is a beautiful building and quite full of history, it is a shame that it is being run into the ground. There are specific tax laws that only allow a certain percentage of income from non members, if the members would use it more, they would not have to open the doors to the street. Members need to support their club, allow Club Managers to run it and give advice. It has always been a board run club, they are not really qualified, as professional as they are, they run businesses, not clubs.
            I hope it does not turn into a hotel, but I don't see anyway for it to come back.
          • Wow.
            As a middle-aged long-time member who does NOT have a large bank account, voted for Obama, and is NOT on either the Club or Foundation boards, I can certainly say that almost all of the messages so far are way off base.

            1. The Foundation is separately run and has nothing to do with the Club's Board of Directors, other than furthering the Club's interests. As it happens, however, the theft was discovered by a member of the Club's board of directors and immediate action was taken.

            2. Social clubs are, in general, losing membership for those under 40. The same can be said for volunteer organizations. Many articles have been written about the 20-40 year old group delaying their taking an active part in civic life for a variety of reasons. The Columbia Club, however, has actually gained quite a bit in this age range primarily due to the appeal of its location, fitness center, connections, and, frankly, the fun that it can provide in a neat building. In many ways it is like a Cheers. There is a great feeling after a long day at work to walk into a building and know that you will run into friends or, at the very least, have a nice conversation with one of the staff who knows you very well. It's called humanity.

            3. The current GM is, frankly, perfect. He is likable, always in the building, and seems to be genuinely concerned about the members. As he has no oversight over the Foundation (which, again, is SEPARATE from the running of the Club itself), he was not in a position to discover the theft.

            4. I admit that I am also concerned about some of the "opening up" of the club in terms of making the rooms available to the general public and so forth. My hope is that the board and its committees will address this soon.

            5. The Columbia Club was NEVER a secret society. It is true that, until the last 25 years, it was largely a Republican club. Of course, the GOP was quite a bit different then than it is now.

            6. The club is a fun place to meet your friends, have a drink, and have a great lunch or dinner. Members of the club come from ALL backgrounds and professions. Detectives, bankers, firefighters, Realtors, black, white, straight, gay, etc. Are there unpleasant members? Of course -- just as there are unpleasant people at your office. But the majority of people just want to escape the day-to-day routine and do so with other people. In short, most of us are nice people who would enjoy having the guy at the Blue & White stop in as a guest and, if he liked it, become a member.
            • Frustrated Past Member
              This is a reply to Joe. The blame for this should not fall on Mr. Lampkin. The board of Directors lead by the president Dr. Miles Schroeder and VP Terry Young should be to blame for this along with the GM. They are the ones that oversee everything that goes on there. Mr. Lampkin is not on the board for the Columbia Club. He is simply a member and a guy that helps run the Foundation for the club. Like I said in my previous statement, there is a lot of things that happen within those walls that are swept under the rug. Everything that happens there goes threw them. They know about everything that happens there with every department. The bad thing about that though is they get a lot of the information from the GM that warps the truth. Even when the board finds out about the wrong things that have happened they place the blame on others to protect themselves. I can personally say that this is something that I know the people of the Foundation would not do. There is more to this story than whats being put out. While some of the things that "CC member" said before where a little downgrading a lot of good points were also brought up. The Columbia Club was made to be a certain type of place. It was formerly known as a house for Republicans. It has had a certain tradition and reputation that had been upheld and a lot of things have been changed as of late that is leading to its downfall. Yes, its was a former type of secret society for the whos who of Indianapolis and now doors are being opened to everyone and anyone. Its not saying that anyone is better than anyone else. Its just saying that its something different that isnt working for them and leading members away. Past members got tired of all the problems that were happening there and left so to make up for there loses they opened the doors instead of just fixing what was wrong to make people stay. With the current president of the club and several other members of the board that are on staff nothing here will ever change. They know who the next president will be the year before bc they elect theirselves. The current board lead by Dr. Schroeder were the ones that hired on the Current GM, so they wont fix a lot of the problems because it will make there choice in bringing him in look bad. This was once a place that was loved by myself and by many others but is now being looked at as a joke.
            • Columbia Club
              Read your Bible CC Member...shame on you for thinking you are better than everyone else because you have a large bank account!!! My faith in God and moderate bank account serves me well. I live according to God's word - I don't judge others like you just did...shame on you!!!
              • Ipad Introverts
                Social clubs in general have long been in a steep decline. Most people under 40 would rather blog, twitter and text rather than actually mix with other humans.
              • who are the directors?
                who are the members of the board of directors other than Lamkin and Schroeder? I would think the IBJ orr a reader could provide...
                • Columbia Club
                  As a trucker I take personal offense to the Blue and White truck stop reference.
                • Columbia Club
                  Jezzz C C member...nice to slam the general population with sterotype truck stops and anybody can walk. I surely hope your comments are not the feelings of the membership (however sure sounds like it). Guess I should not be admitted even though I am a WASP? Trust babies, whinners and people high on themselves...O'Reilly has a word that descrives you...should just stay to themselves. This way there is no chance of mutant genes getting into main stream America.
                • outrageous
                  I have been a member of the club for close to 10 years and can say I am truly embarrassed by the erosion of the traditions and high standards that the club once had. To quote a good friend of mine, " we might as well be a Blue and White truck stop".

                  There is no leadership either in the club or foundation and that is the problem. Doctor Schroeder and Gerry Lampkin have tried their best to sweep this and many other things under the rug.

                  It is well known that the club is no longer a private club in any manner. Anyone off the street can walk in and be served or get a hotel room.

                  The board no longer takes the advice of the screening committee in reference to new members and often allows new members in that don't meet our standards.

                  I only wish the past presidents and lifelong influencial club members would take back control of the club and recreate what we once had. If not done soon we will certainly go away like many private clubs before us.

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