By Diana Hefley Herald Writer
EVERETT — Rick Rozzini began pocketing money from the Stanwood Camano Little League to make up for his smaller paychecks after the recession hit.
Rozzini, who was in the mortgage industry, saw his $90,000 yearly income drop to about $30,000, a Snohomish County Superior Court judge was told Monday.
As the league’s treasurer, Rozzini had access to the youth organization’s bank account and used an unauthorized debit card to “pay for grocery bills, for gas, for cell phone payments, cable, Internet,” his attorney Gabriel Rothstein wrote in court papers.
In retrospect, Rozzini could have gone without, but he was too ashamed to tell his family, Rothstein said.
Rozzini stole about $42,000 from the league between 2011 and 2013. He pleaded guilty to first-degree theft in April.
Rothstein tried to persuade Judge David Kurtz not to send Rozzini, 43, to jail. Rozzini has paid back all of the money he stole from the league, his lawyer said.
The judge wasn’t required to order any jail time.
Snohomish County deputy prosecutor Teresa Cox pushed for the maximum under the law — three months in jail. She accused the defendant of breaching the trust of a community that counted on him.
Kurtz sentenced the defendant to two months behind bars. The judge agreed to let Rozzini serve his time on work release if he qualified. He gave Rozzini until early September to make arrangements before reporting to the jail.
“It could be said that stealing from the Little League is stooping to a very low level of behavior,” Kurtz said.
He gave the defendant credit for paying back the money but Kurtz said he couldn’t overlook that Rozzini stole from the league over a span of years.
“These deeds are not just one single event or a momentary lapse of judgment,” Kurtz said.
Rozzini said Tuesday that he should have left the mortgage industry sooner. He apologized for his actions, saying he “tried to help but it doesn’t matter because of what I did.”
Rozzini said his priority is to do right by his family and try to earn back their respect.
League President Rick Randall has said new safeguards have been put in place to avoid future thefts.
Once the theft was made public, the league received donations to support the 2014 season.
The league serves hundreds of young people ages 5 to 18.
Diana Hefley: 425-339-3463, firstname.lastname@example.org