An Escondido youth sports league is climbing back from near-bankruptcy after a parent volunteer allegedly embezzled upwards of $100,000 from the league.
Carrie Richardson – a parent and trusted volunteer treasurer – is accused of stealing thousands of funds from the Escondido Pop Warner league over several years, and then bolting to the east coast in 2011.
She was recently arrested in Maine, and now there’s a push to have her extradited back to San Diego to face charges.
The Escondido Pop Warner football league has been around for 45 years, a milestone worth celebrating given the alleged blindside hit they took from their former treasurer.
On the field with the Escondido Wolf Park, accountability and team work take precedence.
I think it’s great here,” said Escondido Pop Warner president Frank Jungman. “To think that someone would steal from these children, I think it’s really sickening.”
It’s off the field where a financial loss still stings.
Pop Warner league parents say Richardson was a trusted part of the team for years, and the embezzlement allegations shook the team to its core.
“Our parents lost faith in our board, in our league,” parent Burnadine Nolan told NBC 7.
Following the embezzlement allegations, plans for a huge equipment shed for the team were scrapped as the league began the 2012 season in a $10,000 hole.
It didn’t end there. Participation then dropped from 600 to 300.
“I feel sad for her son. I feel sad for her that she did this. But I’m relieved [that she was caught and arrested],” said Nolan.
Richardson was recently arrested in Maine, accused of similar crimes there.
But back here in San Diego – where there is a warrant for Richardson’s arrest – questions still linger about whether or not she’ll ever face punishment for her alleged crime.
“This city and this county can’t afford to extradite her. There’s just no money left in our budgets from the cutting that’s gone on,” said Jungman.
The league president says police are working on extraditing Richardson from Maine to San Diego.
In the meantime, he’s working on building the league’s bottom line and reputation.
He says he has learned some important lessons on who to trust from this ordeal.
“You make sure, absolutely, you have two signers on the account. Your treasurer should never have access to the money, and you should see the bank statement at every meeting,” said Jungman.
Police say these types of crimes happen more often than most people think.
It’s a hard lesson learned from the sidelines, one this league won’t soon forget.
If police are able to bring Richardson back to the North County, the league would still need help pursuing a civil suit.
They’re looking for donations and legal assistance, should they get their day in court.