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Cops & Courts

Former lacrosse coach pleads guilty to theft

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    Greg Bacho

    MG

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MEDINA — A former coach and officer with the Medina Lacrosse Association pleaded guilty Monday to stealing tens of thousands of dollars from the organization.

As part of his sentencing on a grand theft charge, a fourth-degree felony, Medina County Common Pleas Judge Joyce V. Kimbler ordered Greg Bacho, 51, of Great Smokey Circle in Medina Township, to pay restitution of $93,500, to issue a public apology in court and to perform 40 hours of community service.

He also was placed on probation for three years.

Bacho, who was arrested Oct. 4, stole money from the lacrosse association between September and February 2016 for personal use, Medina Township Police Chief Dave Arbogast previously said.

A jury trial was scheduled to start Monday, but county Prosecutor S. Forrest Thompson said he had been in touch with the defense attorneys and didn’t think it would go forward.

“His attorney came to us and tried to get a reduced charge,” Thompson said. “They tried to get a plea deal. We felt it was a strong case.”

Some thought Bacho would receive jail time.

“Obviously, it’s not something I have a great deal of control over,” Thompson said about Bacho’s sentence. “He pled to the indictment.”

Thompson said the money was delivered to his office Monday.

With restitution being made and Bacho’s lack of a previous criminal history, Thompson said it was unlikely Bacho would have seen any “hard incarceration time.”

“Given all the circumstances, I was not surprised,” he said.

Thompson said a key point in the process is that Bacho won’t get an opportunity to do something like this again.

“They wanted to see some punishment,” Thompson said. “It’s a fourth-degree felony. The conviction successfully accomplished that goal.”

Two people who filed police reports against Bacho — Lisa Puto and Brian Zawada — said they were pleased the case is done.

“I’m glad this is over,” Zawada said. “We’re not happy with the sentence.”

He said his opinion is strictly his own and not that of the board.

“People I talked to were pretty surprised” there was no jail time, he said.

Puto said the lacrosse association, which has since reorganized under Medina Youth Lacrosse Association, always could go after Bacho in civil court.

“That’s not my intention,” she said.

Zawada, a boys middle school coach, said there are 172 players in the lacrosse association for boys and girls in first through eighth grades.

Puto said she worked closely with a police detective from Medina Township and an investigator with the attorney general’s office.

Puto, who runs a mortgage company in Medina, said she knew there was something going on when Bacho wasn’t providing monthly bank statements.

She said Bacho admitted his guilt to the association’s attorney on March 3, 2016, and stepped down. At the time, Pluto said, Bacho held five positions with the association, including president, girls coach and treasurer. He was taking out money in chunks of about $3,000.

“I knew something was wrong,” Puto said. “It wasn’t adding up. Where was all of our money going?

“He wasn’t filing tax returns properly.”

Puto said she hopes that Bacho isn’t allowed to be involved in a 501(c)3 organization again, work with children or families or any sports.

She’s upset the money that Bacho stole could have been put to good use — like scholarships or helping high school students fund the pay-to-participate fees at the high school.

She said Medina County is made up of trustworthy people.

Unfortunately, there are many people who prey on that, and Bacho was one of them.

Puto, who works as a volunteer with the association, said organizations need to be careful about who is handling the finances.

“The financials need to be transparent,” she said.

Contact reporter Bob Finnan at (330) 721-4049 or rfinnan@medina-gazette.com.


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