By Mike Rush
ST. LOUIS (KSDK) - It's a 5 on Your Side investigation nearly six months in the making; an effort to find a man accused of taking money from children in Missouri and Illinois, all through a canceled softball tournament.
5 on Your Side's Mike Rush spent months trying to track the coach down. And when he finally confronts him with some tough questions, things get violent when the coach loses his cool on camera.
Elmo Green, fast pitch softball coach, tournament organizer, described by some as friendly and positive. But we found another side to the man.
"[Expletive] you. You got that, too," Green yelled into our camera when we found him at his Jefferson City home in December. "Put that on the [expletive] news. Get the [expletive] on out of here. Bye."
More on this violent encounter in a moment, but first, what you need to know about Elmo Green.
People are coming forward to 5 on Your Side saying Green owes them money, including a team of 10 and 11-year-olds at the time called the "Lunachicks" from Highland, Illinois. They signed up with Green's organization, Black Ice, to play in a tournament last summer in Rolla.
"It was canceled due to not enough teams," said Coach Darren Zobrist.
But, the coach says Green still hasn't refunded the girls' entry fee, close to $400. It was money raised through trivia nights, selling pizzas and other fundraisers.
Player Lilly Garbett told 5 on Your Side, "The parents, coaches and kids put all the money in and that's just the less tournament that we can play."
Joey Rich says the Highland Lunachicks are not alone.
"We just want to see those bills paid, those refunds issued," said Rich.
Rich is the state commissioner of the Amateur Softball Association of Missouri. He says the ASA sanctioned Green's tournament, but Green organized and ran it. And he says he's hearing similar stories from more teams involved in other tournaments connected to Elmo Green.
Reporter: "How many people and how much money do you think are involved with this?"
Rich: "It's just an educated guess, we don't have a good figure, but based on the calls I received about 20 or 40 entry fees and the 5,000 that's still due in umpire fees."
Rush: "Possibly $25,000?"
Rich: "It very easily could be."
The situation brings Rick Petty to tears.
"He's a friend, he has been a friend," said Petty.
Petty is an ASA District Commissioner and lined up the umpires for divisions of Green's Rolla tournament that weren't canceled. But he says Green's check to pay the umpires bounced and now Petty says he's out $5,000.
"I think he's not that bad a guy. I just know there's a problem and I'm out the money. The teams are out the money," Petty said as he choked up.
During a phone conversation with Green months ago, he told Rush he was waiting to get deposits back he made on the Rolla tournament. He assured Rush the money was coming, and soon. But guess what? It never did and Green stopped returning Rush's calls.
So, to hold him accountable, Rush went looking for Green at his Jefferson City home over and over and over again.
The many times Rush knocked on the door, nobody answered.
On one occasion, Rush thought he caught a break. A car pulled up matching the kind associates tell Rush that Elmo's wife, Theresa, drives. But the woman inside apparently had nothing to say. She drove off as Rush approached.
Another time, the police came after someone in the house called them asking the officer to tell 5 on Your Side not to come on the property again.
Making sure to stay off his property, Rush kept looking for Green. One day, he finally appeared and invited Rush on to his property where he was standing smoking a cigarette by his garage.
But their face to face soon turned ugly when Green, who, remember, Rush had given several chances to talk on the phone, demanded he turn the camera off.
Green: "What do you want to do? Do you want to talk or do you want the camera to keep rolling?"
Rush: "The story is about you. Are you not wanting to talk?"
Green: "Take the camera off of me and I will talk to you. What part of that [expletive] you don't understand? What part do you don't understand? What part?"
Rush: "What does that mean?"
Green: "That means you don't understand."
When Rush agreed to turn the camera away but not off, Green slapped the microphone out of his hand, picked it up off the ground and threw it back on the ground. The impact sent the microphone in pieces.
Rush: "Give me the microphone back."
Green: "Get the [expletive] off my property right now."
Rush: "Okay, let me get my stuff."
But the guy who coaches kids, wasn't done putting Rush and his photographer through the drills.
As Rush walked off of Green's property, Green followed him out to the street.
Rush: "Don't touch that camera."
Green: "Man, [expletive] you and shut up."
And then looking directly into the camera, Green said, "[Expletive] you. You got that, too? Put that on the [expletive] news. Get the [expletive] on out of here. Bye."
And Elmo Green, who, court records show, has a history of cases against him for breach of contract, walked away. He apparently let his temper overshadow any sense of obligation to those looking for answers.
"I don't think it's fair that we worked hard to raise all that money and then they basically pocketed it from us," said Lunachicks Player Rece Portell.
Surprisingly, the microphone still works. From a legal standpoint, The Phelps County prosecutor, where the tournament was, says unless he can prove Green took the money with the intent of keeping it, this is a civil matter, not criminal.
Meanwhile, the Amateur Softball Association assures Rush it has banned Green from holding any ASA sanctioned events. So it looks like his tournament days could be over.