HOUSTON - A Little League football coach said he was scammed into buying stolen football equipment and wants to clear his name after video showed him moving the sled to his truck.
Tommy Rodriguez helped start the 713 Cardinals, a Little League team on the south side of town that has more than 100 kids on it.
Rodriguez said he was looking to buy cheap sleds to help advance his football team.
He said someone he knows through acquaintances, who is also a coach on the Northside, reached out to him on Facebook.
Rodriguez said he trusted the coach because he was from an organization that he knew.
"I was just a victim of circumstances, but at the same time, he didn’t make me do nothing, you know, he actually, he deceived me and that’s more of an embarrassment on my part that I was so deceived that I should have known better,” Rodriguez said.
"He messaged me for about two days, finally I was able to go meet with him, the first sled we picked up I didn’t know it was stolen from Booker T. Washington a year prior,” Rodriguez said.
He said after he saw the pictures on Facebook and they discussed a price, he agreed to meet him at the high school.
Rodriguez said when he got to the school, he noticed the gate looked opened and was suspicious initially.
He said the man selling the sled reassured him everything was fine and even offered to call the school’s head coach to verify. Rodriguez said he took his word.
“He explained to me that the gate been open for a couple of days because he had been getting stuff out from there that had been donated to him. It was a stupid decision on my part seeing the gate, I should have left, but him being a coach, he was promising me that he was looking out for me and looking out for the kids he was going to cut me a deal and stuff being donated, and added to the fact he was a previous student at the school and played at the school, so I had no reason to not believe him,” explained Rodriguez.
Caught on camera
The little league coach said he was also convinced because the transaction happened in the middle of the day and there were a lot of people outside.
Someone in the neighborhood started recording when they suspected someone was stealing the equipment.
KPRC2 News was only sent a clip of the video, but Rodriguez claims the full-length video explains exactly what happened, which he said shows when he gave the man money for the sleds.
"Plus, it was broad daylight outside If people are doing something they got no business doing, they’re going to sneak to do it, we actually stayed at that school for an hour, we negotiated for an hour, we went in and we negotiated right on the field with the sled, I paid him on camera right there with the sled, we pushed it out, loaded it on the back of my truck, drank water, and talked about the upcoming season," said Rodriguez.
The phone call
Rodriguez thought he got a great deal and paid $120 for the sled. He even posted a Facebook Live showing the team the new piece of equipment.
“I actually got the sled, posted it on live and tagged we got new additions for the organization and my kids on live playing with the stuff,” he explained.
Days later, KPRC2 News ran a story with the Booker T. Washington Booster Club members pleading for help to find the stolen equipment.
He said about two days later he got a phone call that he and another guy supposedly stole the items.
Rodriguez, who lives on the south part of town, said he immediately got in touch with people to try and contact the head football coach.
“I took full responsibility for my actions, you know I explained to them like I am to you what exactly went on,” said Rodriguez.
“After talking with him the principal and a few other staff members, they let me know this guy had been stealing from them for two years, up to $20,000 worth of stuff,” said Rodriguez. “I was just a victim of circumstances, but at the same time, he didn’t make me do nothing you know, he actually, he deceived me and that’s more of an embarrassment on my part that I was so to deceive that I should have known better.”
Clearing his name
Rodriguez said he takes responsibility for falling for what he said was a scam.
“Like I said, I’m a victim of circumstance, but I’m no way playing victim because I went in the gate, I paid him the money, I drove to that side of town, it’s a whole lot of fault on my behalf and I accept it,” he said.
He took to Facebook to explain his side of the situation after the original story aired last week.
Houston Independent School District officials initially said they wouldn’t comment on the story, but stated on Tuesday that the HISD Police Department is still investigating.
As for the man accused of selling the stolen equipment, Rodriguez said he hasn’t been able to get in touch with him and doesn’t know the man’s first or last name.
“It’s a $120 gone but I mean, you live and you learn,” said Rodriguez.
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