Free Republic
Browse · Search
Topics · Post Article

Skip to comments.

There is No Stealing in Baseball!
The Daily Beast ^ | 4-13-14 | Michael Daly

Posted on 04/13/2014 6:03:19 AM PDT by afraidfortherepublic

From manicures to motorcycles, four Little League crooks in three states used team funds for more than baseballs, bats and celebratory ice cream cones. Thanks to community kindness, it’s still game-on this spring.

With the start of a new baseball season comes a disheartening stat that makes you worry not just for the national pastime, but for the nation itself:

In less than a year, four little league presidents have been charged with looting their organization's treasury.

The thefts left three of the leagues in such sorry financial shape that it seemed the kids might not be able to play this spring.

But nobler souls came to the rescue, and in each instance opening day saw a big win for goodness over greed.

“I was a little leaguer, and that’s where the dreams come true. One day, they’ll get to be at the stage I’m at, and turn around and help, too.”

“By far this is going to be our best season ever!” cheers Chris Arnold, the new president of one of the leagues that will the playing after all.

The first of the four arrests occurred back in August in Hawaii, when 43-year-old Cheryl Octavio was charged with stealing more than $22,000 from the Hilo little league while serving as its president.

Octavio has since pleaded guilty in federal court to that theft, as well to stealing similar amounts from two youth soccer leagues. She faces up to 30 years in prison when she is sentenced on April 28. She had no prior arrest record and worked for the Bank of Hawaii.

“Not your typical criminal or mastermind,” her attorney, Marcus Sierra, told a local newspaper.

With Octavio serving as both a little league president and a bank executive, her alleged embezzlements from the league’s accounts at the bank constituted a double breach of trust. But it also meant that the funds were covered by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.

Even so, the reimbursement process usually moves at the speed of government, which is to say slower than slow. The season might have been lost had the bank not shown surprising heart and advanced the money to the league. Hilo may even return to national prominence, as it did in 2011, when its senior division won the little league world series.

“Loyalty…dedication…commitment,” read a team banner.

The second arrest came last September in Texas. Claudia Yarnal Castillo, 35-year-old president of the Southeast Arlington Little League, was accused of stealing more $23,000 from the organization, thereby causing it to cancel the fall season.

“Upon reviewing the transactions, I observed several visits to nail salons as well as numerous purchases at Grand Prairie Outlet Mall during ‘tax-free weekend,’ which were definitely not related to the league,” Det. Allen Constantino wrote in the arrest warrant affidavit. “Also seen were numerous business checks written out to Claudia herself or made payable to ‘cash.’”

At the moment, the case is still under investigation by the economic crimes unit of the Tarrant County District Attorney’s, which is seeking to document what appears to be a long series of thefts. Investigators have noted that the mother of four has repeatedly declared bankruptcy and is some $200,000 in debt. She has not yet been indicted.

Once again, greed was again met by goodness, this time in the form of a foundation affiliated with the Texas Rangers along with three of the team’s players, shortstop Elvis Andrus and pitchers Derek Holland and Joe Nathan.

“I was a little leaguer, and that’s where the dreams come true,” Holland told reporters. “One day, they’ll get to be at the stage I’m at, and turn around and help, too.”

Nathan said, “As a kid, little league was just something I took for granted. I never really thought that it could be taken away from me.”

A $20,000 check was ceremoniously presented to the Southeast Arlington Little League (SEALL). The spring season was a go.

“The sun is out and the fields are ready!” the SEALL Facebook page exclaimed. “Play ball.”

Another posting exulted, “The clinging from the bats is music to our ears!!! Welcome back SEALL!!!”

By then, there had been a third arrest, also in Texas. Noe Joe McKinzie, 41-year-old president of the Peaster little league, was charged with stealing more than $10,000 from the organization.

The alleged thefts came to light in February, when the then sergeant of arms, Chris Arnold, received an anonymous call saying that Nix had withdrawn $3,300 from the league's account to make a down payment on a truck.

“I thought it was a joke,” Arnold recalls.

Arnold telephoned the treasurer, Holly Carter, at home.

“I said, ‘This is just odd. Can you just pull the account up on online?’” he remembers.

Carter made a quick check.

“Sure enough, there it was,” Arnold says. “I said ‘Ill be right over.’”

Further checking showed numerous other expenditures that seemed to have nothing to do with baseball.

“Most of our money for a season,” Arnold says.

They called McKinzie, but he did not pick up and he failed to respond to a message.

“We really didn’t know what to do,” Arnold says. “I never would have thought it in a million years. Why would anybody want to do that?”

One thing they knew they had to do was call the Parker County Sheriff’s office. McKinzie was arrested. He pleaded not guilty at his arraignment.

The money was still gone, and as the new president, Arnold felt he had no choice but to cancel the season. His shock then turned to happy surprise as donations immediately began to pour in.

“It was almost instant; people were stepping up,” Arnold says. “I can’t say enough about the community.”

The adjoining Weatherford Little League pledged to assist. And everybody’s generosity added up to Arnold being able to announce that there would be a 2014 season after all. The Peaster kids looked better than ever on opening day.

“They’re awesome!” Arnold says.

The Facebook page noted that the league was in need of one more bit of volunteerism: “We are needing someone who's great at painting and lettering the old score board.”

The fourth theft was also by far the biggest. Stephen Verhage, former president of the Kennedy Little League in Madison, Wisconsin, was arrested in March for stealing some $200,000 from the organization over a period of more than six years. The investigation had begun back in 2012 after another league official noted irregularities on the accounts.

“I knew I was going to get caught,” Verhage said when he was confronted, according to the criminal complaint. “It got to be too easy.”

As recounted by the complaint, Verhage initially admitted to stealing between $10,000 and $12,000.

“Verhage explained that he began siphoning funds [from] Kennedy Little League because his small business was not doing well,” the complaint states. “Verhage explained that the name of his small business was Aspen Creek Home Inspection, and that everything started when he wrote out one Kennedy Little League check to himself for $1,000 about a year and a half earlier, and things continued from there.”

In fact, the complaint says, the thefts went back to late 2005 and reached six figures. Verhage allegedly wrote checks to himself and his business while using a league credit card for personal expenses and directing league funds to pay his own credit card bills.

“Verhage stated that he had used the stolen Kennedy Little League finds to pay for his meals, travel expenses for his small business, and house and business expenses,” the complaint says. “Verhage stated that every time he went on a hunting or fishing trip he was not making any income, so that during these times he regularly took Kennedy Little League funds so that he could pay his bill.”

The complaint describes Verhage as being less than completely forthright even when he had to know that the detective would follow the money to the truth.

“Verhage stated that a payment in check No. 5373 for $2,350 from May 9, 2008 was to Chris Pochowski for a used garden trailer for Kennedy Little League,” the complaint reports. “[The check] was actually for a motorcycle.”

At his arraignment, 59-year-old Verhage pleaded not guilty. The size of the alleged theft is matched by the size of the league, so the loss was spread among 60 teams over nearly seven years. The league retained adequate resources to go ahead with the 2014 season, and the players were greeted on opening day by a sign:

“Welcome to Madison Kennedy Little League. Where friendships are formed and life lessons learned.”

On Saturday, all four of the victimized leagues were in full swing. The sights and sounds of baseball at its purest signal that the nest in us has prevailed.

“In all, a bad thing has turned out great,” Arnold says.

TOPICS: Business/Economy; Crime/Corruption; Culture/Society; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: embezzlement; funds; littleleague; volunteers

1 posted on 04/13/2014 6:03:19 AM PDT by afraidfortherepublic
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | View Replies]

To: afraidfortherepublic

I am absolutely certain that this goes on all the time. My boys have been involved in regional youth football leagues for several years. A couple years ago a friend who managed a different team in the same league asked the league president for an accounting of how the funds are spent. The president promptly kicked that program out a week before the start of the season (five divisions, 150 boys.) After everyone went groveling back and were allowed back in, I sat down with my friend and did the math on player fees, gate receipts and every conceivable expense that we could dream up (always estimating on the high side.) We figured out that at a minimum $20,000 couldn’t be accounted for and it was likely closer to $25,000. Both of our programs pulled out of that league the next year, and it eventually collapsed. I’ve been told since then by parents coming and going in various sports from different parts of the country that it’s not an uncommon concern.

2 posted on 04/13/2014 6:33:13 AM PDT by ElkGroveDan (My tagline is in the shop.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: ElkGroveDan

It isn’t just with the sports leagues. I plugged the word “embezzlement” into my search engine a few years ago and was astonished at how much of this goes on from churches to municipalities to PTOs to charities. A theme around here has been gambling. More often, than not, the perps are let off with a very light sentence.

I needed to hire a clerk with fiduciary duties for my small business a few years ago. I placed an ad and got a lot of responses. I narrowe dthem down to 3 and interviewed the applicants who all seemed good. I ran the names through Wisconsin’s Circuit Court Access website and found that 2 of my final 3 had records including “theft from employer”. I hired the third one and had to fire her a couple of months later for inappropriate behavior.

I handle all the fiduciary duties myself.

3 posted on 04/13/2014 6:46:44 AM PDT by afraidfortherepublic
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 2 | View Replies]

To: afraidfortherepublic
This is not new.

In the 70's I was treasurer of our local little league community organization baseball, football, softball and soccer and within weeks knew of the out right theft going on due to lack of controls on ticket sales, concession stand{s} petty theft and favoritism {giving friends free food}.

At the next general meeting I raised the issue and offered several valid checks that could be implemented and would avoid future money drain.

I told the membership that between 30-40% of the kids money was being used, abused and stolen by other members and they were all indignant {even the thieves} and passed the rules that prevented much future pilferage.

Thieves will always be with us, but some vigilance does help.

4 posted on 04/13/2014 7:01:32 AM PDT by USS Alaska (Exterminate the terrorist savages, everywhere.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: afraidfortherepublic
There is no stealing in baseball!

Oh, really?

Maury Wills with 100 bases he stole

5 posted on 04/13/2014 7:06:59 AM PDT by Fiji Hill
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: afraidfortherepublic

Did these people think they were working for the government?

6 posted on 04/13/2014 7:13:46 AM PDT by Starstruck (If my reply offends, you probably don't understand sarcasm or criticism...or do.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Fiji Hill


7 posted on 04/13/2014 7:30:00 AM PDT by afraidfortherepublic
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 5 | View Replies]

To: Starstruck

We had a local police officer and his wife steal $15k from tee ball accounts. He let her take the rap. We currently have a candidate for jailer who is collecting monies for little league who has nothing to do with it. League officers found out and are now taking action. These people are truly the scum of the earth.

8 posted on 04/13/2014 7:34:32 AM PDT by sarge83
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 6 | View Replies]

To: afraidfortherepublic
I'll probably get flamed for this, but about ten or fifteen years ago a friend of mine at work and I started reading stories about embezzlement in the St. Paul Pioneer Press. It seemed every week there was a new story about some bookkeeper or financial manager getting caught and charged with stealing sometimes very large amounts of money they were entrusted with. It turned out the great majority of the people caught were females.

Then I researched further and found out that embezzlement is one of the few crimes where women "outdo" men by a large margin. I mentioned that to my wife, and was subjected to a verbal assault concerning the multiple evils and crimes of the male gender. But facts are facts. After doing my research, I arrived at the conclusion that all businesses should check their books often. And f I had my own business, I might not want to hire female bookkeepers. Sorry. I could probably do the books myself after taking a class at a vocational school and doing well. One classmate did become a bookkeeper.

9 posted on 04/13/2014 7:43:15 AM PDT by driftless2
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 3 | View Replies]

To: Fiji Hill

See, there’s the rub . . . stealing bases . . . what is the message that we are sending to the youth of America, that’s it alright to steal? Seriously, here is another rule that needs to be looked at. Why can’t it simply be called “Appropriation of an advantage by running to a base while nobody is looking?”

That way we can continue to teach our children that stealing is not only wrong, but that it is breaking one of the commandments!

Just think of the long-range ramifications of such a pro-American step! Children will no longer grow up to be Democrats who have been taught over the years that stealing is acceptable, thanks to our national pastime.

Just think! A world without liberals!

(To those of you in Rio Linda, the following is completely tongue-in-cheek, . . . maybe).

10 posted on 04/13/2014 7:45:36 AM PDT by Pilgrim's Progress (
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 5 | View Replies]

To: driftless2

I’m a female, and I won’t “flame” you. You are probably right just because banking and bookkeeping are largely a female occupation. So is being president of the PTO.

I started noticing this because I didn’t trust one local female who always turned out to be Treasurer of everything because nobody else wanted to do it. I didn’t catch her, but I still question some of the reports she provided that didn’t make sense. She’d always get really hot under the caller if anyone questioned her. She’s still around, but not treasurer of anything any more.

11 posted on 04/13/2014 7:50:05 AM PDT by afraidfortherepublic
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 9 | View Replies]

To: afraidfortherepublic; driftless2

One of the problems is that people don’t want to take responsibility in volunteer organizations any more. Everybody wants to be a “co-president”. They don’t want to be bound by by-laws and often they have only one signature required on a check because “it’s easier”. My daughter is struggling with this as an officer of a band boosters group. Add to that a band director who thinks that the funds are his personal piggy bank, and you have trouble.

12 posted on 04/13/2014 7:55:46 AM PDT by afraidfortherepublic
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 11 | View Replies]

To: driftless2

Municipal clerks are a whole different matter. People frequently pay fines and license fees in cash which is easily pocketed. I live in an area of small cities, towns, and villages. I think that every one of these municipalities has had a clerk arrested over the past 10 years, including my own city which not only lost a couple of clerks but also lost a fire chief whho embezzled a larger sum from a relief fund for injured fire fighters. He blamed a divorce and alcohol dependency!

13 posted on 04/13/2014 7:59:54 AM PDT by afraidfortherepublic
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 12 | View Replies]

To: afraidfortherepublic

Checks are processed electronically these days. I am the treasurer for a local chapter of a nonprofit organization - the bank told us we could require two signatures but they could not promise that they wouldn’t cash a check with one signature.

This particular bank will not issue a debit card on a nonprofit account. There are some other chapters that have debit cards.

14 posted on 04/13/2014 10:09:38 AM PDT by scrabblehack
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 12 | View Replies]

To: driftless2

That’s true about females. There have been several school PTA presidents that have done that in a local school district.

15 posted on 04/13/2014 10:32:33 AM PDT by windcliff
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 9 | View Replies]

To: afraidfortherepublic
some of the reports she provided that didn’t make sense. She’d always get really hot under the caller if anyone questioned her.

It's not a job for a person who feels that way. The sharp questions come with the job. A person can be honest and react that way, so it's not a firm indicator of fraud, just unsuitability.

16 posted on 04/13/2014 2:34:43 PM PDT by no-s (when democracy is displaced by tyranny, the armed citizen still gets to vote)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 11 | View Replies]

To: driftless2
women that run small enterprises such as little league or pony league, etc, probably don't have a lot of other job prospects, or job skills.....they're not rich and that money just pulls at them....

a woman coming to work and shooting a dozen people is less likely than a man doing it, so you can choose to have a tiny chance of having some money embezzled or a tiny chance of being killed....

17 posted on 04/13/2014 3:28:05 PM PDT by cherry
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 9 | View Replies]

To: cherry

I’ll have neither choice thank you. But you’re far more likely to have a female embezzler than a male mass murderer. So watch your finances.

18 posted on 04/13/2014 6:01:50 PM PDT by driftless2
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 17 | View Replies]

Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.

Free Republic
Browse · Search
Topics · Post Article

FreeRepublic, LLC, PO BOX 9771, FRESNO, CA 93794 is powered by software copyright 2000-2008 John Robinson