Banners and medals awarded to Nassau County Little League baseball and softball stars and tournament winners will be delayed or not awarded after a former administrator took $24,000 from the group over the past three years, a league official told parents earlier this week.
In an email sent to parents and team leaders on Monday, current District 29 administrator Jim McDaniels reported that he met with the previous administrator on June 20 and “proposed paying back $20,000 of the $24,000 he stole over the past three years.” The repayment would be at a rate of $4,000 a year over the next five years.
The former administrator, who has not been charged with a crime, said in a telephone interview that he “made a mistake after doing so much good for the Little League over 35 years. Then I got sick and unemployed, and it was rough.”
“I know that’s no excuse for what I did, I messed up my good name, hurt my family and embarrassed my grandchildren,” he said. “But I’m going to make restitution. I made a terrible mistake.”
The district covers an area from Valley Stream to Malverne, and north to New Hyde Park and Mineola.
Parents of players said they were dismayed by the repayment agreement.
“Someone needs to take a stand, and someone needs to be held accountable,” said Robert Metzger of Garden City, who has a son in the league.
Parent Ed Voyer of Mineola said: “Seeing how the district has funded his [the previous administrator’s] life for the last several years, I don’t see how we should now finance it. Tell him he can pay the 24K he owes us in full, and he can get his own loan from a bank to do so.”
Eric Leimgruber of Garden City South, who has three children playing in the district and served on the local board for six years, said responsibility goes beyond the former administrator.
“I want to see accountability for the missing money. Fire the whole board. They were either negligent as board members or they turned a blind eye to what was going on,” he said. “There should also be term limits. Some of the district’s current board members have been there more than 10 or 12 years.”
McDaniels did not return calls or emails seeking comment. In his email to parents, he cautioned that “due to the state the account was left in, there was a block put on” the account and the order for this year’s banners will be delayed. “There will be no medals either,” McDaniels wrote.
The Eastern League office referred calls to Little League International spokesman Brian McClintock. He said in a statement that the organization “is verifying the specific details of the allegations regarding inappropriate financial operations of New York District 29. If true, the acts of this volunteer are reprehensible and unacceptable” and the group would work to “ensure that all funds are returned to the district in a timely manner. These funds are intended for use to support Little League activities for the many children involved in New York District 29.”
Brendan Brosh, a spokesman for the Nassau County District Attorney’s office said in a statement: “Anyone who believes they may have been a victim of a crime is encouraged to call the NCDA Tip Line at 516-571-7755.”