The DeCredico Incident

For me to comment on this would only detract from what you are about to read, which is self-explanatory.

From: Fun Fong [mailto:fun.fong.jr@gmail.com]
> Sent: Monday, November 24, 2014 6:49 AM
> To: Laura Doman (Trinity)
> Cc: Greg Maness; J Parnell Watkins, Jr.; Elena Gratskaya
> Subject: Incident with Chattanooga friends
>
> Laura,
>
> This is a draft of what I propose to send to the USCF and to the DeCredicos:
>
> Dear …..
>
> This is our account of what occurred during out 2014 Georgia Class Championships. I have known the DeCredico family from several events and from my experience with the DeCredico family from Castle Chess Camp. The family is wonderful. Mr. DeCredico can be an emotional person, and the emotionality is usually expressed in terms of gratitude.
>
> We suspect that there have been some frustrations which have caused Mr. DeCredico to have had some conflict that have been building up over several tournaments. We later heard that Mr. DeCredico had had some words with Ben Johnson, a Chief TD during a Southeast Chess tournament.
>
> At our tournament, we inadvertently used the October published ratings to vet our tournament file. The correct information had been entered by Mr. DeCredico, evidenced by our import records, but somehow the October supplement was used to further vet the tournament file. This was certainly our mistake and we freely admit it. This had happened in another incident with a family from Alabama, and we were able to discover this issue and repair the round before the round began, making this family satisfied.
>
> The lower published rating caused Mr DeCredico’s daughter Zsofia, to have the lowest rating within the section and she ended up being the odd player with a unforced full-point bye. We found an extra rated game for Mr. DeCredico’s daughter with an opponent who was rated slightly higher that her current rating. She seemed to appreciate the pairing and was playing without issue. Mr. DeCredico discovered that an old October published rating was used for her during the round in progress and became agitated, demanding to speak to the person responsible. He quickly became more agitated, and by the time that he came to our Informatics area, he began verbally lashing out at our Informatics Officer, Elena Gratskaya, even before she could begin to address the issue. Our Floor TD, Parnell Watkins attempted to shield Elena physically, fearing that the situation would escalate.
>
> Mr. DeCredico became loud and abusive, accusing all of the staff of incompetence and intent on causing a scene in the Tournament Hall. He accused our Deputy Chief TD Greg Maness of incompetance. Mr. Maness was unaware of the previous events and responded back to him. Mr. DeCredico told his son Winston that he had to resign, that they were going to leave. He had also brought another Chattanooga player, Expert Zachery Perry, who was compelled to leave his game as well. I arrived on the scene and asked what we could do to help Mr DeCredico. Mr. DeCredico stated that he was intent on leaving, and said that he was too upset to explain to me what was troubling him. I assured him that we would refund his registration feed and wanted to know if we could help him in any other way.
>
> It took a small bit of time for Mr. DeCredico’s children to leave the hall. Mr. DeCredico became intent on retrieving them. He was extremely agitated and was intent on causing a scene in the Tournament hall where play had started in earnest, about 20-30 minutes into a G/120 round. Floor TD Parnell Watkins barred the door and asked our staffer, Laura Doman to please retrieve his children. Mr DeCredico accused us of keeping him from access to his children. I told Mr. Watkins that we could not keep him from access to his children, but by that time the children had left the hall and were in the corridor.
>
> The DeCredicos left. We later heard that players and spectators were in fear of their safety. At least one person feared that this man may have been armed. I knew Mr. DeCredico was not a physical threat, but our other staffers did not. Certainly our Informatics officer was put in fear for her safety such that our TD had to interpose physically. The rest of the day was marred with the pall of this incident.
>
> The DeCredicos abruptly left after the games were well in progress. Someone following one of the games on the internet wondered why one of the games ended abruptly after 21 moves. From a technical standpoint, these games must be scored as rated forfeits; however, we would do whatever the USCF recommended in this particular incident.
>
> The DeCredicos are a wonderful family. The kids, Zsofia and Winston, are wonderful. Mr. Zachary Perry is a amicable player and one whom we would like to continue to encourage to play. I do not know what other events may have preceded Mr. DeCredico’s agitation that day, but it was not the usual Richard DeCredico demeanor that I have experienced in the past. We will be happy to refund registration fees for these Chattanooga players. We would not necessarily want to ban Richard DeCredico from our tournaments (although some might), but we would want some reassurance from him that he will take definite steps not to threaten our personnel, or cause an explosive outburst with the intent to disrupt one of our tournaments again. Medication might well be necessary. This was a very distasteful incident for all involved that occurred this weekend, and in the interest of our other players who came from AL, NC, SC,TN, and FL to play, we hope not to experience ever again.
>
> Respectfully submitted,
>
>
> Fun Fong, MD
> Chief TD
> 2014 Georgia Class Championships
> 770 / 316-8483 (c)

> On Monday, November 24, 2014 2:27 PM, Laura wrote:
>
>
>
> Very nice, Fun. By the way, I’d like to write an article for the Jan. 1 publication of GeorgiaChessNews.com about the DGT boards. Charles Troutman, Jr. sent me a terrific story about how he was able to watch his son Charles Troutman III’s games live while he was on business in India. (His son went on to become the 6th grade state champion.) I’d like to get more info from you and ChaCha and anyone else who can talk more about the technology and make it a truly informative article.
>
> Have a Happy Thanksgiving, all!
>
> Laura

On Mon, Nov 24, 2014 at 4:10 PM, Greg Maness wrote:
>
> To All … …
>
> [note … I added Frank Johnson to my reply here as he was involved in the incident due to his intervention and I added Ben Johnson as his name was mentioned in reference to a prior incident involving this same person]
>
> I had dinner with a lawyer friend (a criminal defense attorney) last night after the tournament and had lunch with same lawyer friend today (he’s also a former tournament chess player from Pennsylvania). Yes, we did discuss the incidents of Saturday … and, no, I did not mention anyone by name. He was also very surprised and distressed that an organization as the Georgia Chess Association does not retain legal counsel nor does not have an attorney who serves as a “friend of the organization” who is either an elected board member or serves as a staff member for the board. He especially stressed this with the fact the G.C.A. sanctions so many activities that involve minor children.
>
> Based on the conversations with the lawyer, I do want to comment on a couple of issues. First and most importantly … Parnell Watkins and I physically barring Mr. DeCredico from the tournament hall … not only were we “well within our rights,” we were also “well within our OBLIGATION” to not allow him entrance to the tournament hall (and especially in the absence of law enforcement personal) as our concern was the ASSURANCE OF THE SAFETY of the 50-odd people who were in the tournament hall. The fact his own children (or so he thought) were in the tournament hall is irrelevant as the safety of all parties concerned supersedes that … and especially since the perceived danger to anyone in the tournament hall came from Mr. DeCredico himself. I was given the example of a Principle-imposed school lockdown where no parent would ever be given access to the building and thus their children. I was also advised that had we PERMITTED his entrance to the tournament hall (due to the obvious circumstances) … and had there been an incident that compromised the safety of anyone therein … that WE (the G.C.A., the tournament personal, the hotel, etc.) could be held responsible and liable.
>
> I do wish to add THREE participants in the tournament came to me (separately and hours apart) and each told me they were “afraid he was going to get a gun out of that big bag he was carrying and start shooting!” I also overheard a fourth player telling another player the same thing.
>
> Dr. Fong’s statements here are very well-written and very accurate! But … also many of Dr. Fong’s statements are irrelevant as they pertain directly to Mr. DeCredico’s actions. Mr. DeCredico’s actions were completely unjustifiable. Using wrong rating supplements … making erroneous pairings … etc … none of that gives justification or warrant to the actions (verbal and near-physical) taken by Mr. DeCredico. I do, however (with one exception to which I am coming), stand with what Dr. Fong has written.
>
> My exception: Dr. Fong’s statement “We would not necessarily want to ban Richard DeCredico from our tournaments.” SERIOUSLY?? In any other sport (and we all want chess … especially organized chess … to be given the respect it deserves on par with other sports) this type of outburst and action would not be tolerated and severe justice involving a suspension would be handed out. Imagine had this been a golf tournament or bowling tournament (both where I have experience) or a tennis tournament where this outburst had occurred … he would immediately be expelled from the tournament (do note: during his outburst I forfeited his game [the USCF Rulebook supports my action]; he didn’t need to resign) and he would be given a suspension (and probably a fine, too, if it was a professional organization such as the PGA) … and, also, we would not be implying justification of his actions or implying the sanctioning organization somehow shares the blame!. The same with any team sport … … …
>
> I would also strike the “Medication might well be necessary” statement from any correspondence with the USCF. That could give grounds for libel suit by Mr. DeCredico!
>
> Since Mr. DeCredico repeatedly, loudly, and in front of many witnesses (including the few hundred who were in the hallway for the other of the hotel’s scheduled event) was calling me a “pedophile” and saying I “should be arrested,” my lawyer friend also said I had a case to sue him for civil slander (I believe Mr. DeCredico made similar references towards Mr. Watkins). I just laughed and said we were very far from even considering, much less undertaking such action! Read that as I would just rather it be forgotten.
>
> That is all I have to state at this time.
>
> — Greg Maness

> On Monday, November 24, 2014 5:16 PM, Fun Fong wrote:
>
>
> Greg,
>
> Why don’t you write up your version of events? I think I have not heard your experience.
>
> Fun

On Mon, Nov 24, 2014 at 7:11 PM, Greg Maness wrote:
>
> Fun … … my version of the events is not that different from what you have already written … actually, not any different. You just had more details (spec. the incident in the Informatics room). All I could add is the number of participants expressing concerns over their personal safety. I don’t know if the USCF needs to be made aware of the legal aspects concerning our securing the tournament hall or not. If you would like to edit your draft to include notes from my comment e-mail (i.e. # players voicing safety concerns), that is fine with me.
>
> — Greg

From: Fun Fong
> Date: Mon, Nov 24, 2014 at 7:30 PM
> Subject: Re: Incident with Chattanooga friends
> To: Greg Maness , gcaboard Board
> Cc: Laura , Frank Johnson , Ben Johnson , “J Parnell Watkins, Jr.” , Elena Gratskaya
>
>
> Greg,
>
> The way I see it, while some may feel justified in saying they were protecting the players, Mr. DeCredico has a credible assault and battery threat because he was touched. If this goes to court, then we all lose, no matter what. The best thing to do in legal matters is usually “not to play.” In this case, we need to learn how to de-escalate people as people begin to get agitated. One should always try de-escalation first. That way, something so small an item never comes to this. I am not sure this incident could have been avoided, but I would sure try my darndest to make sure that it didn’t get so far out of control.
>
> Mr. DeCredico has emailed me, demanding that our personnel be more people friendly and customer-oriented. I have told him that I will take steps to do so. He has apologized to me and has sent two emails, which I will first send to the Board for comments and then to the people involved. I think his perceptions in his second email may have some degree of validity.
>
> I think this incident has uncovered some significant vulnerabilities of the organization. For one, we currently have no liability insurance. A lawsuit would likely be the death of GCA. As much as I would like to put this event to bed, I think a “lessons learned” after-action report would be appropriate with all involved contributing.
>
> I don’t think we will have any further action from Mr. DeCredico. Let’s learn from this and see if we can prevent another incident like this again.
>
> Fun

On Tue, Nov 25, 2014 at 11:33 AM, Greg Maness wrote:
>>
>> To All … …
>>
>> I was not a witness to anything that occurred in the Informatics Room, so I can not address that. Apparently, Mr. DeCredico claims someone touched him. If that happened in Informatics, I was not there to witness … and perhaps it is better I do NOT know! If that happened outside the tournament hall, I did not witness it. Also, when Mr. Watkins and I were denying his entrance into the tournament hall I made special effort to NOT touch him … as did Mr. Watkins. Now, as far as the action of denying his re-entrance to the tournament hall … I stand by what I previously stated — which is what I was advised by a criminal defense attorney … “we were ‘well within our rights,’ we were also ‘well within our OBLIGATION’ to not allow him entrance to the tournament hall as our concern was the ASSURANCE OF THE SAFETY of the 50-odd people who were in the tournament hall … (and) had we PERMITTED his entrance to the tournament hall … and had there been an incident that compromised the safety of anyone therein … that WE (the G.C.A., the tournament personal, the hotel, etc.) could be held responsible and liable.” Note he (the lawyer) included the HOTEL as being liable as well!
>>
>> I agree with Dr. Fong on several points. Yes, if this were to ever to go to court, “we would all lose.” Even if we (the G.C.A.) were to “win” … and I am sure we WOULD win in court in this situation … we still “lose.” No argument from me. As far as trying to de-escalate a situation … I was under the impression that was attempted; it just did no good in this case — also as Dr. Fong has alluded.
>>
>> Mr. DeCredico has apparently “demanded our personnel be more friendly and customer-oriented.” Being “more friendly” is a perception, but I will give him that one. I am not sure what he means by “being more customer-oriented.” Apparently pairing errors were made … okay, those were just honest mistakes. Remedying that is an “in-house” issue. As far as “customer-orientation,” what is perceived as a problem(s), I would need more information before I gave my opinion there. Also, any past issues involving Mr. DeCredico and Southeast Chess, et al, is not relevant here (unless deemed so by the USCF in establishing a pattern of behaviour).
>>
>> Dr. Fong is dead on with this has uncovered some significant vulnerabilities! Remember, I stated my lawyer friend was “very surprised and distressed that an organization as the Georgia Chess Association does not retain legal counsel nor does not have an attorney who serves as a “friend of the organization” who is either an elected board member or serves as a staff member for the board. He especially stressed this with the fact the G.C.A. sanctions so many activities that involve minor children.” Add to that, as Dr. Fong has mentioned, the lack of liability insurance never entered my mind! [Perhaps another phone call to Kelly Hillyer is in order.]
>>
>> Should further action be taken by the G.C.A. (and the USCF) against Mr. DeCredico? That is not for me to say for the record. But … three tournament (adult) participants (and a fourth who did not address me directly) clearly stated to me they were in fear for their own personal safety! I can only imagine what was going through the minds of the many children who were witnesses to this situation. If the G.C.A. does not take action, I am afraid the perception of the G.C.A. in the eyes of many members and players will not be very favourable.
>>
>> — Greg Maness

From: Fun Fong
>> Date: November 25, 2014 at 12:11:01 PM EST
>> To: Greg Maness
>> Cc: gcaboard Board , Laura , Frank Johnson , Ben Johnson , “J Parnell Watkins, Jr.” , Elena Gratskaya
>> Subject: Re: Incident with Chattanooga friends
>>
>> I am also seeking legal advice.
>>
>> GCA cannot sustain legal action (costs). As I said, if this were to progress to a lawsuit, we might win on the merits, but we would lose, likely losing the organization.
>>
>> This is a conundrum. My thought is that we must avoid a legal action at all costs. I now think that Mr. DeCredico will complain to USCF and we need to have possible responses lined up. I will be using the legal advice to consider these factors.
>>
>> Mr. DeCredico states that both he and his children were touched. This is becoming a “he said, he said” story. I think we should look for witnesses.
>>
>> I think that we should discuss this issue at the Board in closed session, after the official Board meeting is over on 2 December. Discussion is available to non-board members now.
>>
>> Fun

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One thought on “The DeCredico Incident

  1. […] De Credico’s fuse is the GCA made the exact same mistake made at the previous tournament. (https://xpertchesslessons.wordpress.com/2014/11/26/the-decredico-incident/). As Mike Mulford has written, the buck has got to stop somewhere, and Fun Fong is the POTGCA, and […]

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