At Little League® International in Williamsport, Pa., and at our Regional Offices, calls and emails come in all year long about situations that are happening at one of our 7,000 local leagues. Many of these calls and emails inform us of some very positive initiatives spearheaded by our millions of volunteers. However, there are also negative situations.

“Don’t Let This Happen to Your League” details a real-world scenario, how it has impacted a league, and how you might learn from it.

The names have been omitted in the following scenario, but the situation is real.

The Situation

After a local Little League holds its annual election, the new Board of Directors votes to have the newly-seated Treasurer and Finance Committee conduct an audit of the league funds. In doing so, the audit reveals that the league’s savings account ledger and the bank’s account statement do not match. When the former Treasurer is approached the current Treasurer about the discrepancy he admits to “borrowing” the money, and states his intention to pay the money back. This individual has been a long-time volunteer in the league and on the Board for three years prior, with last season being his only year as Treasurer. The new League President takes the person’s word that the money will be returned to the league. Several months after the Treasurer’s admission, restitution has yet to be paid to the league. At a monthly Board meeting, the League President discloses the discrepancy to the Board, and the verbal agreement to re-pay the money made between her and the former Treasurer. The current Treasurer, on recommendation from the Finance Committee, makes a motion to contact the local law enforcement, and file a criminal complaint.

The Outcome

The Board votes to call police, and an investigation ensues. From the interviews and evidence collected, the league’s former Treasurer is arrested and charged with multiple counts of embezzlement. After the former Treasurer is arraigned, he again claims before the Judge that restitution is forthcoming. Due to the amount of money taken from the league’s coffers, the Judge decides that the full amount of money is to be paid back to the league, and the individual is not permitted to volunteer in a similar capacity with any youth or civil service organization.

Note to Leagues

No matter if there is a personal relationship between Board members, immediately sharing conduct of this nature with the entire Board of Directors is crucial. Any action that can be deemed as detrimental to the league must be brought to the attention of league officials the moment the actions are found out. Certainly, any activities of a criminal nature must be turned over the authorities. When situations involving money arise, each league must take immediate action to confirm there is an accounting discrepancy and pinpoint where the problem has occurred. Being thorough and transparent with all financial reporting is the best way to account for all transactions made by the league. If an error, oversight or misappropriation occurs an annual audit is designed as a discovery tool, and can help to identify the problem.