Wednesday, May 28, 2014
UPDATE (adds additional details) Westport Police today announced the arrest of a former Westport Baseball & Softball board member for embezzling more than $40,000 in funds and equipment.
Capt. Vincent Penna said the Tuesday night arrest of Kevin Hlavac, 39, of Bridgeport came after a several months’ investigation prompted by the board’s concerns following a yearly, internal audit.
Jeff White, chairman of Westport Baseball & Softball, said suspicions were aroused last fall and Hlavac was confronted in late November. “He had no answers, not good answers,” he said, adding Hlavac was asked to resign in December.
“Board members presented the results of the audit which showed that over $40,000 worth of funds and equipment were unaccounted for,” Penna said.
“All of the items were found to emanate from one individual who was given authorization from the board to order equipment and submit expense reports for reimbursement,” he added.
Penna said that all of the investigation focused on Hlavac, who was interviewed by detectives and eventually admitted to falsifying invoices and canceling orders after submitting invoices for equipment, so that payment was made to him by the league.
Penna noted that items were never delivered to the league, and that it was billed for clinics that were never held.
In addition, parents who paid for hotel rooms and expenses for out of town games were not paid back, even though Hlavac submitted invoices and was reimbursed by the league, according to the arrest report.
Hlavac is also said to have sold league merchandise and kept the money.
He was among Westport Little League officials who cheered on the team as it made its way to the Little League World Series in South Williamsport, Pa. last summer. After winning the state and New England championships, Westport lost the national championship to Chula Vista, Calif.
White said the missing funds were not specifically tied to the World Series marathon of games.
“There’s been a lot more activity in the league with clinics and operations year round,” he said.
Hlavac has been charged with first-degree larceny. His bond was set at $5,000, and he is scheduled to appear in Norwalk Superior Court on June 5. He could be sentenced to 20 years in prison.
According to the Westport Baseball & Softball website before the information was removed, Hlavac had been the VP of Youth Baseball and Little League since 2011.
It said he has been coaching high school baseball for 15 years, including the Staples baseball team.
The website said he is an ordained minister, certified teacher and child development specialist and worked for an international nonprofit organization whose goal “is to develop character in teens and children through sports.”
White said he could not vouch for all the things Hlavac listed in his biography but called him a very knowledgable coach. “Many things he did well,” White said.
Announcement of his arrest came less than 24 hours after a Westport Baseball & Softball statement that as a result of an internal investigation it had asked Westport police to investigate allegations that a board member misappropriated funds for his personal gain.
In a statement, White, the chairman of the group, did not disclose how much money was involved but did state that it “will not hinder the organization’s operations and commitment in any way.” (See WestportNow May 27, 2014)
Posted 05/28/14 at 04:17 PM Permalink
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Maybe it’s about time White, board members and others have limited tenures so as to allow others the opportunity to bring in the necessary checks and balances.