Cedar Field, where Marysville Little League plays ball. (Marysville Globe, file)

Cedar Field, where Marysville Little League plays ball. (Marysville Globe, file)

Marysville Little League president sentenced for theft

A forensic audit found Leo Carlos, 50, could not account for more than $71,000 of league money.

MARYSVILLE — The former president of the Marysville Little League must complete 30 days of community service and repay $20,000 within a year for stealing thousands of dollars from the league for his personal use.

As early as October 2016, members of the league’s board notified Marysville police that they suspected Leo Garcia Carlos was taking money from a league account. A forensic audit revealed up to $71,360 in unsubstantiated withdrawals and transfers — for meals, cellphone bills and so forth — that appeared to have been funneled to Carlos, 50, according to charging papers. Bank records from 2012 to 2016 showed the league’s financial reporting was “basically non-existent and had not been accurate for years,” and that the Internal Revenue Service had revoked its tax-exempt status due to a failure to file tax returns for three years, the charges say.

In a recorded interview with a detective, Carlos admitted he’d been making many withdrawals without telling the treasurer. In one instance, he’d been vacationing in Ocean Shores when he ran out of money. According to his statement, he took almost $1,000 from the league account. He’d done basically the same thing on another vacation to Lake Oswego, Oregon.

Carlos acknowledged $32,000 in unexplained withdrawals from 2013 to 2016. He claimed, however, that $3,500 in Sprint Wireless bill payments were approved by the league, though other board members disputed that. Carlos told the Marysville detective he’d lost his home to foreclosure, and he’d been using the league’s cash for daily expenses like gas.

Police spoke with the league’s treasurer, who recalled Carlos had told her he’d taken some league funds for personal use, but she wasn’t sure about how much he’d taken, or if he’d repay what he’d taken, according to court records. Officers found that only the treasurer and Carlos had access to the league’s debit cards.

Prosecutors charged the defendant with first-degree theft in September 2018, with a special notation that it was an “abuse of trust.” He pleaded guilty as charged a year later in October and admitted to stealing more than $5,000.

Last week Superior Court Judge Janice Ellis ordered him to pay back a sum that was agreed upon by the league. A month of jail time was allowed to be converted to community service, and he’ll also be on probation for six months.

He’s banned from serving any role with “financial fiduciary responsibility.” Both Carlos and the former treasurer are no longer involved in the Little League’s board.

“As a league we’re trying to move past it,” the league’s current president, Brandy Hurley, said on Friday. “We’ve made a lot of changes to how we, in general, do things.”

The Marysville Little League no longer provides a business debit card to the president, and instead requires expenses to be paid for with a check signed by two people. Tax-exempt status has been restored, too, according to the league.

Registrations for younger divisions — T-ball and “rookies” up to age 8 — are still open for a few more weeks.

Roughly 500 kids play ball in the Marysville Little League. The extent of the damage caused by the theft would be hard to tabulate, but baseball diamonds likely suffered because of it, Hurley said. An upgraded Cedar Field is expected to open in March, almost four years after the crime came to light.

Hurley said she had not seen any of the restitution money as of Friday. A hearing to review Carlos’ compliance with his sentence is set for July, after Marysville’s Little League season ends.

Caleb Hutton: 425-339-3454; chutton@heraldnet.com. Twitter: @snocaleb.

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