Rangers, restaurant owner helping Arlington league recover from theft

Posted Tuesday, Sep. 24, 2013  comments  Print Reprints
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An Arlington restaurateur, three Rangers and the baseball team’s youth foundation could change the outlook for children who want to play in the Southeast Arlington Little League come spring.

Shortstop Elvis Andrus, starting pitcher Derek Holland and closer Joe Nathan are helping the league restore a hefty amount of money that authorities believe was stolen by a former board president accused of embezzling more than $20,000.

Lack of money and low fall attendance forced the league to cancel its fall season.

“When we saw the story last week, we knew we wanted to help,” said John Blake, spokesman for the Rangers. “It’s obviously something that is just the right thing to do.”

The Texas Rangers Baseball Foundation will also help defray costs.

The Rangers will host a pregame presentation to the kids before their game against the Houston Astros on Wednesday.

The Rangers gave 500 tickets to the league.

“It was a no-brainer once I learned what it was for,” Nathan said. “To have the opportunity to get the boys on the field … it's something I hope the other guys can continue to help with.”

Spring Creek Barbeque owner Chris Carroll also is scheduled to meet with the league’s new president to talk about making a donation to the team.

Claudia Yamell Castillo, 34, was arrested by Arlington police Thursday. She faces a charge of theft of more than $20,000. Castillo and her husband, Luis Beltran Castillo Jr., were both voted off the board of the Southeast Arlington Little League during the summer after board members were notified about unpaid debts and missing money.

New league President Lucas Larson said the group would have had a tough road ahead without the help of the Rangers.

“The kids we talked to, heck, they are really excited,” he said.

‘This is heartbreaking’

Board Vice President Tammy Wilson said the league ordered its uniforms in February, and she became suspicious when the uniform company notified her in May that they still owed $9,000.

Castillo “kept saying she would take care of it, but it was continually put off,” Wilson said.

Larson said the league had poor enrollment for the fall and initially sent letters to parents stating that was why the season was canceled. Castillo didn’t set up fall registration or start the application process, which resulted in the low numbers, he said.

He said they didn’t tell parents about missing funds because they weren’t ready to go public. But by Labor Day, the board had enough and contacted Arlington police.

The investigator told the board that Castillo spent the money on “frivolous items,” Wilson said. “It wasn’t one big item, just everyday family expenses.”

Southeast Arlington Little League officials have implemented new policies so that every financial transaction must have two signers, the group’s debit card is eliminated, cash receipts must be written out for all expenses, and a cash register must be placed in the concession stand.

All volunteers must submit to background checks, though Castillo’s came back clean, Wilson said.

“We wouldn’t have had to cancel fall season if we weren’t in the money situation, but we would have had a small league,” Larson said.

Castillo had worked as a hiring specialist for the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services since July 2012 but submitted her resignation on Friday, agency spokeswoman Marissa Gonzales said.

Castilloo was released from the Arlington jail on $25,000 bail the day before.

Monica S. Nagy, 817-390-7792

Twitter:@MonicaNagyFWST

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