Police say over $30k vanishes from a Fresno softball league

FRESNO, Calif.

Police say $32,479.50 disappeared from the bank account for the Central Youth Softball League. It's a story you'll only see on Action News.

The league treasurer, /*Tracy Kamimoto*/, has pleaded not guilty to embezzlement. She was the treasurer for about two years and after she left the position, she handed over a set of financial records. But an investigation discovered the statements were missing thousands of dollars in transactions.

More than 200 girls -- ages five to 16 -- put on the uniform of the Central Youth Softball League every year.

Girls from the Central Unified School District pay to play in the non-profit league, and a treasurer is supposed to take care of their bills -- for umpires, jerseys and other expenses. But earlier this year, a financial glitch created suspicion about how the then-treasurer, Tracy Kamimoto, was doing her job.

"There was a check that was cut for reimbursement to one of the parents and the check bounced which was from an account that should've had more than enough money to pay for that," said current league president Mitch Gaasch.

After months of asking Kamimoto for financial records, Gaasch got statements like this from Bank of America. After she resigned as treasurer, the bank handed over nearly identical statements for the same time frame. But the bank's originals showed several check card transactions -- a red flag for Gaasch.

"The league has never authorized the issuance of a check card," he said. "There were a lot of purchases made via check card."

The statements show the card was used to pay for Apple iTunes, BYU continuing education classes, and bills from the city of Fresno, Comcast and Dish Network.

"Not at all for the kids," Gaasch said. "Never authorized by anyone."

In the version the league received from Kamimoto, those charges had been erased. The statements are essentially in the same format, but the font is clearly different on the numbers in statements Kamimoto turned over. Police determined Kamimoto had embezzled league funds and got a warrant for her arrest.

Parents in the softball league say she's also been involved in other sports leagues, and at Central Unified. When school administrators heard about the embezzlement charge, they launched an internal investigation.

"As far as any involvement in our district, she has been a parent volunteer, however, not associated with the handling of cash," said CUSD superintendent Mike Berg.

The softball league found itself drowning in debt -- more than $13,000 in unpaid bills -- but their governing association, the Amateur Softball Association of America, gave them a year to play catch up on bills.

The league hosted a tournament and raised money, and is now nearly above water again. Gaasch says it won't even need to raise the fees for girls to play. So as prosecutors go after Kamimoto, the girls can still play ball.

"We do hope to someday get at least a portion of it back, but until then we do have enough money to operate the league," said Gaasch.

But the league hasn't been able to buy equipment and other supplies it normally would get the girls.

Kamimoto is due back in court in February. Action News reached out to her attorney, Matthew Alger, and her husband, Keith Kamimoto, on Friday. Her attorney didn't return our calls. Her husband, who was president of the league during part of his wife's tenure as treasurer, told Action News Tracy Kamimoto is not the type of person to embezzle money.

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