Saturday, February 22, 2014

Former youth baseball league president pleads guilty in NH to embezzlement

The former head of a youth baseball and softball league in the New Hampshire city of Concord has pleaded guilty to embezzling thousands of dollars from the association.

Robert Lachapelle was president of the Concord Northeast Baseball and Softball League from 2007 to 2011.

The Concord Monitor reports ( ) that he was accused of withdrawing $4,300 from the league account, twice through a fund transfer and a check.

The 55-year-old Lachapelle pleaded guilty on Friday to two felony counts of theft by unauthorized taking.

Under a plea agreement, he is expected to be sentenced next month to probation. Prosecutors say he also must pay back the money to the league and complete a county diversion program.

A former president of Concord Northeast Baseball and Softball League pleaded guilty yesterday to stealing thousands of dollars from the association during his tenure there.

The man, Robert Lachapelle, pleaded guilty in Merrimack County Superior Court to two felony counts of theft by unauthorized taking. As part of a deal with county prosecutors, he is set to receive probation and a suspended jail sentence next month.

Lachapelle was arrested a year ago and accused of withdrawing $4,300 from the league account in 2010, twice through fund transfers and once through a drawn check. The police said they began investigating Lachapelle in April 2012 when a league official reported concerns that funds had been misappropriated.

Lachapelle, who is 55, served as president of the league from 2007 to 2011. He also served as director of the Babe Ruth Softball 16U World Series in 2009, when it came to Concord.

In addition to suspended jail time, Lachapelle is expected to pay full restitution to the league and to complete a county diversion program, Deputy County Attorney Catherine Ruffle said. A sentencing hearing is scheduled for March 14.

Andy Kastle, the league’s sitting president, said he and others were “pleased that this long legal journey is nearing completion.”

“While the sentencing has yet to take place, the diligence of the Concord Police Department and Merrimack County Attorney’s office has led to this satisfactory point, and Mr. Lachapelle has taken responsibility through his plea,” he wrote in an email.

Kastle also reiterated what officials said when the charges were first brought: The league has tightened its control over receipts and instituted a more detailed record keeping process for expenditures.

“These unfortunate circumstances have led CNE to strengthen our financial controls and our sponsors and parents can know we are on solid footing,” he wrote.

Lachapelle and his attorney, John Draghi, declined to comment after the hearing. Yesterday was the last day they could enter a plea in the case.

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