ARLINGTON — For the 300 or so kids who usually play in the Southeast Arlington Little League, what happened over the summer meant they had to pick up their balls and bats and play somewhere else.While other leagues started play about two weeks ago, the Southeast league had to cancel its season because it didn’t have enough money to operate. One of its former leaders has been accused of embezzling more than $20,000.“The decision was difficult, though necessary, given the guiding principle of all remaining members, which is of course keeping the best interests of our kids as our highest priority,” said Lucas Larson, the board president. “We are proud of the remaining board members, whose sole purpose is the welfare of our children and the integrity of our Little League Baseball Association.”Arlington police Detective Allen Constantino is investigating the theft allegation and is looking at a possible suspect who served on the board during the past year. The police don’t have anyone in custody, and because the investigation is active, they cannot release names, police spokeswoman Tiara Ellis Richard said.The theft wasn’t reported until Sept. 2 — about a week before the season would have started — when league Vice President Tammy Wilson contacted police about a misappropriation of funds that may have been going on for more than a year, a police report stated.Larson declined to comment on the specifics of the incident — including when the group discovered that the money was missing — citing the ongoing investigation. Instead, the board, after being contacted by the Star-Telegram, sent parents a letter Wednesday addressing the issue.“Over the summer, the board of directors made an unfortunate discovery of financial abnormalities within the organization,” the letter reads. “Due to this discovery, the board made the decision to immediately remove the parties involved from their current position(s) within SEALL.”The league typically plays at Cravens Park off Matlock Road by the Boys & Girls Club of Arlington. The cost for vendors, umpires, lights and field use is now out of reach since the group owes money for rent. League officials are working with the Arlington Parks and Recreation Department to pay the “small amount” they owe, office assistant Nathan Pipkin said. He declined to say how much the league owes. As of July, 40 Little League teams paid about $29,000 to rent Cravens Park, according to the city’s rental summary report. “They are filing an insurance claim that they say will cover the cost,” Pipkin said. Larson, in the letter, said the league is taking steps to ensure that money doesn’t go missing again.“We have already put new policies and procedures in place to avoid any re-occurrences going forward,” the board wrote to parents.
Monica S. Nagy, 817-390-7792 Twitter:@MonicaNagyFWST