Your Kid’s Not Going Pro

A Youth Sports Blog

Posts Tagged ‘theft

In these leagues, someone is stealing more than second base

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Do you kiss your just-got-out-of-jail-for-theft mother with that mouth?

It’s a pattern that plays out frequently in youth leagues across the United States. Someone steps up to handle the arduous, time-consuming task of handling the finances. The league trusts that person with everything. That person works doggedly. That person gets kudos from everyone for working so hard in such a thankless task.

Then a few years down the line, someone discovers that person has ripped the league off blind.

You probably noticed in my headline feed — you do notice my headline feed, don’t you? — that I was able to link to three different stories about three different reports of ripoffs in three separate leagues, all of which made news in just one 24-hour cycle.

In Florida, there’s a woman booked into a room at the Graybar Hotel for the next 18 months and forced to repay the $40,000 she embezzled from a soccer league over two years. Another soccer mom, this one in Pennsylvania, is facing jail time after being convicted of embezzling $75,000 from her son’s soccer league. Finally, a New Jersey baseball dad just got arrested on charges of stealing $20,000 from the league whose finances he handled. In each case, no one suspected anything until people started calling to collect bills everyone else in the league thought had already been paid.

Unlike, say, Ocala’s Big Sun soccer league (the first item in this list), your league can close the barn door before the horse escapes. This article from Athletic Business covers the basics, namely, having more than one person involved in handling the money.

Otherwise, you’re going to go to your league meetings and wonder why the treasurer is pulling up in a Bentley.

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Written by rkcookjr

September 8, 2009 at 9:31 pm

Posted in crime, Sports

Tagged with , , , ,

Sports radio does something other than call for the manager’s firing

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Millsap, Texas, population 350, was looking at possibly having to shake $20 out of every man, woman and child to pay for the $7,000 theft of equipment from Millsap Youth Athletics. That is, until a talk radio station two counties to the east, in Dallas, took up their cause, what with their good heart and so much time on the air being freed up since Terrell Owens left town.

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Um, that’s Millsap, not Milsap.

The folks at ESPN 103.3 raised $3,000 on the air through bids on a sports ticket package until an anonymous listener called in, off the air, to pledge $5,000.

From the Fort Worth Star-Telegram:

[Millsap Youth Athletics secretary Rita] Switzer was profoundly grateful.

“Whoever this anonymous donor is, I love you, I love you, I love you,” she said.

Switzer said smaller donations have come from residents across North Texas, both pledged on the telephone and sent through the mail.

Switzer said the community’s response to the theft is teaching the children about the good in people and how positive things can come out of bad.

“Before every meeting we have, the first thing we do is we pray. We pray for God to watch over the kids and for him to allow us to be the best we can be,” she said. “I feel this is an answer to those prayers.”

 I was just crying the whole time I was listening. They talked that story up like we were big-leaguers.”

Millsap isn’t the only youth sports organization to get a helping hand in a crisis wrought by theft. The Blue Island (Ill.) Little League has shaken a lot of helping hands after it lost $3,000 in food and equipment in a concession stand burglary. One man gave the whole kaboodle. The Chicago White Sox kicked in $500 and free tickets for the players. Other parents and other leagues kicked in some money, as well.

It’s nice to know that in a crisis, you can find friends in unexpected places. Especially if you can get the word out. Seriously leagues — if you suffer a sudden loss, let the world know so someone can help.

Embezzle, fo’ shizzle

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In Frederick, Md., the sheriff’s department is investigating possible embezzlement at the local Youth Sports Association. Its interest was piqued after the group’s treasurer suddenly resigned, then her husband — a local football coach — suddenly resigned, and the association decided maybe it was time for an audit.

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The sheriff (above), on the case.

At this point, I’m not sure embezzlement at a youth sports organization counts as news. Not when it happens so often. A quick Google search turns up a case pending in Ault, Colo., and a federal indictment in Seminole County, Fla. Youth sports embezzlement is so common, your league can buy insurance to protect against any losses.

Youth sports organizations are an easy target for theft because they tend to have one person handling a lot of cash transactions that are audited and accounted for by no one outside that single volunteer. Just like how a person who really wants to coach kids, but has none of his or her own, is now thought of a potential child molester, anyone desiring the job as league treasurer might need to be thought of as a potential thief first.

Then again, even a thief can get in, given the lack of volunteers for the long and tedious job of counting the money. That the Allendale (Mich.) Little League was swindled out of $16,000 should not have come as surprise, because the treasurer was OK’d even though a criminal background check showed one embezzlement conviction and one pending case. “This is an all-volunteer group,” the Grand Rapids Press quoted the current league president as saying. “You take what you can get.”

Unfortunately, “you take what you can get” is also the attitude of a lot of league treasurers. This article from Athletic Business details a lot of the usual advice for leagues — rotate league treasurers often, see if you can get an accountant pro bono to look at the books, etc. Sadly for Allendale, it left out the part about not hiring a guy with an embezzlement conviction.

Written by rkcookjr

January 23, 2009 at 10:50 pm