POLK COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – The president and vice president of a youth baseball league in Lakeland are accused of embezzling a total of $50,000 in league funds.
“This is one of the highest thefts from a sports league in Polk County that I can remember, said Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd, who announced the news Friday.
According to the sheriff’s office, detectives began investigating Larry Blevins, 41, and John Sprague, 39, in Sept. 2018, after the league’s new board members noticed some discrepancies in their financial statements.
Blevins was president of the Lakeland Highlands Babe Ruth Baseball (LHBRB) and Sprague was vice president.
Investigators say that between Aug. 2017 and Sept. 2018, Blevins and Sprague “engaged in a systematic ongoing course of conduct with [the] intent to deprive the LHBRB of U.S. Currency.”
According to deputies, the pair each obtained debit cards linked to the league’s bank accounts and used them to make purchases for their own benefit. The league had not issued any debit cards before he became president.
Detectives said the bank statements showed they made purchases at area stores and restaurants, including Wal-Mart, 7-Eleven, Publix, Amazon, Rightway Foods, Burger King, Facebook, Sunoco, along with ATM withdrawals.
Investigators say Blevins also used funds from the league’s bank account to pay for his personal bills.
Blevins spent a total of $30,477.53 on the league’s dime, while Sprague spent about $26,052.59.
Blevins and Sprague were arrested for scheme to defraud over $20,000 and grand theft over $20,000.