Tuesday, October 17, 2017 Medina 34°
Advertisement
Advertisement

Local Medina County News

Medina Lacrosse Association's ex-leader accused of theft

  • 22458241
Advertisement

MEDINA — The former president of the Medina Lacrosse Association is accused of stealing tens of thousands of dollars from the organization during his tenure.

A Medina County grand jury this week indicted Greg Bacho, 51, of Great Smokey Circle in Medina Township, on one count of grand theft, a fourth-degree felony. An arraignment hearing is scheduled for 8:30 a.m. Thursday before Common Pleas Judge Joyce V. Kimbler.

Bacho, who is being held at the Medina County Jail on a $25,000 bond, allegedly stole about $93,000 from the association between September 2013 and February 2016 for personal use, Medina Township Police Chief David Arbogast said.

Arbogast said his department’s investigation began last year after complaints were filed with police and the Ohio Attorney General’s Office by association parents and volunteers, including Lisa Puto.

Puto, who volunteered for 12 years and had two sons in the program, said she acted on her “gut feeling” when she began questioning the organization’s financial records.

“I asked my husband, ‘How do we not have any money when they raised fees from $85 to $225 (for boys lacrosse)?’ ” Puto said Thursday. “I volunteered long enough to know something was wrong.”

One of two complaints that were filed with the attorney general’s office in late 2015 stated Bacho “refuses to show finances and audits or get a (certified public accountant) involved” and “no one knows where all the money is going.”

Another complaint stated Bacho “is the only one who has the financial records and will not be transparent with the finances of the organization.”

Bacho served as president, treasurer and chairman of the annual Baggataway tournament and coached the girls team — at the same time. He was unemployed at the time of the alleged incident, Puto said.

“I offered to help count money and he said he would get back to me, but never did,” Puto said. “We had $68,000 saved in 2013 when the books were handed over to Greg.”

Arbogast said investigators looked through “hundreds” of transactions, and police worked cohesively with the attorney general’s office and the Bureau of Criminal Investigation.

“A lot of the checks were made out to cash that he ended up cashing,” Arbogast said. “He had a debit card that he could use from the association, so some of the transactions were through the debit card.”

Some of the transactions and tax returns contained only Bacho’s signature.

“That’s poor accounting practices,” Arbogast said. “They didn’t have an outside audit of the records, so there was no one truly looking at it except him.”

Arbogast said one year the association generated about $95,000 from fees and fundraising activities.

“That’s almost like him taking an entire year’s worth (of income),” he said.

“As a nonprofit or any business, there needs to be good financial accounting, good accountants or at least an internal audit committee of other members to review what is being taken in and what is spent,” Arbogast continued. “This is parents’ money and it affects the ability how much you have left to spend to run the programs. These youth programs are so important to our youth.”

When word began to spread about the allegations, parents like Joe Kaylor, who coached his three daughters through the program and was a key leader of the organization, said he was frustrated and disappointed.

“This is a black eye to the community and the program,” Kaylor said Thursday. “There are a lot of good people that put a lot of heart and soul in the community to build the program up,” such as Bill Sulskey, who served as president until 2011 when Bacho stepped in.

“The high school team has won championships and it all started with the hard work and dedication of this program,” Kaylor said. “I’m hoping one person doesn’t tarnish the program going forward because there are still a lot of good people running the girls and boys lacrosse program.”

He added: “Myself and other parents put their hard earned money into the program for kids to play and to find out it was being taken is a terrible thing.”

Arbogast said there is “no indication” from the investigation that other board members were involved.

In March 2016, the association reorganized under a new name — the Medina Youth Lacrosse Association — with new board members.

Puto said her husband, Stephen, and other parents helped lead the reorganization process and appoint the current board members. Following the transition, the association raised more than $30,000 at its annual Baggataway tournament, the largest amount raised in its history.

“For us, this was over in March 2016,” Puto said. “We moved forward then and we have to continue to redeem ourselves.”

Contact reporter Halee Heironimus at (330) 721-4012 or hheironimus@medina-gazette.com.



Click to view comments
Advertisement
Advertisement
To Top

Fetching stories…