Former Little League president charged with eight felonies - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

Former Little League president charged with eight felonies

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MADISON (WKOW) -- The former, long-time president of Madison's Kennedy Little League was charged Thursday with eight felony crimes, including several counts of theft, after authorities said he siphoned as much as $200,000 over several years from the league's finances.

58-year old Stephen Verhage was released on a signature bond after a court appearance. As a bail condition, a court commissioner barred Verhage from being on the grounds of the little league.

Verhage also waived his right to a preliminary hearing, entered a not guilty plea, and was bound over for trial.

Despite the plea, Verhage's attorney, Bill Ginsberg, tells 27 News Verhage was responsible for stealing money from league operations.

Ginsberg said Verhage has paid approximately $2,000, as he begins the process of making restitution.

Ginsberg said he did not know specifically how Verhage's thefts impaired the league and its participants.

League president Jerry Benisch declined comment to 27 News on the state of the little league's finances.

A criminal complaint states Benisch discovered in 2012 no principal payments were being made on a loan used to improve league concession facilities.
The complaint states Verhage admitted to Benisch he had been taking league funds. "Verhage stated, 'It got to be too easy,' " the complaint states.

Court records show Verhage wrote checks to himself from league funds totaling $75,000 between 2005 and 2012, also wrote checks to cash totaling $44,139. The complaint states Verhage drew on a league line of credit for personal purposes.

The complaint states Verhage told investigators he initially began taking league money because Verhage's business was struggling, but records show Verhage used league funds to purchase thousands of dollars in merchandise at a big box outlet store, a motorcycle, and pay for hunting and fishing trips.

Kevin Louis' son played on teams in Kennedy Little League from 2008-2012. Louis tells 27 News he questioned where money from league fees, concessions, and fundraisers were going because some league facilities remained in disrepair.

"It's disgusting," Louis says of Verhage's alleged actions.

"Some families struggled to pay league dues, and he was really taking money out of their pockets."

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