(WMC TV) - One of the Mid-South's most prestigious cheerleading organizations is mired in an $8,000 dispute with one of its most generous benefactors.
Jerry Williams, a Memphis philanthropist who runs in the circles of the city's music elite, is also a 4-decade long "cheer dad" for Memphis Elite Cheer & Dance.
Frankie Conklin, president of the group, said Williams is a long-time friend of the program. He said Williams' own daughter was a member in the '80s. He acknowledged Williams has donated thousands of dollars to Memphis Elite.
But Conklin said last November, the group's 200-plus families paid Williams $7,883 to arrange pictures and banners for the team.
The pictures and banners have yet to materialize. Conklin said for the last eight months, Williams hasn't made as much as a phone call to explain.
"I still don't understand it," Conklin said. "He was a good friend. Jerry said, 'Let me save you some money. I've got people who can do it for about half the cost that you're paying.'
"I'm puzzled about the fact that we don't have pictures, money, order forms or any return phone calls."
17-year-old Memphis Elite cheerleader Amber Webber said she worked two jobs in addition to her studies and training. All of this, to pay Williams $500 for a deluxe picture package.
"He really persuaded me to get the bigger package even though I was skeptical about the money," Webber said.
Parent Kasey Astor wants an explanation from Williams about what happened to the $200 she paid toward pictures for her 9-year-old daughter Bailey.
"Explain that to my child, not me," she said. "Tell my child why she doesn't have her pictures. To just fork out that money and have nothing to show -- and to say to your child, too, that you have nothing to show -- she doesn't understand that."
Williams did not return a phone call from The Action News 5 Investigators. But his attorney Michael Working disputed the nearly $8,000 figure.
He said it is closer to $5,200.
He said in January, the photographer Williams hired for the group announced his costs had risen 12 percent.
Working said the photographer asked for the Memphis Elite families' credit card numbers to make up the difference.
"Mr. Williams doesn't feel it would be proper to release credit card information to a man who wants to charge more than the approved amount," Working said. "Mr. Williams would like to refund any money that he agrees that he has.
"It's somewhere in the neighborhood (of $5,200). There's three canceled checks that he agrees he's holding those funds."
"It's been a big puzzle," said Conklin. "It's still mind-boggling."
Conklin said the group has consulted its own attorney and is considering a lawsuit to collect either its money or its pictures and banners.