County will pay umpires' fees Annapolis man accused of stealing youth league funds

July 18, 1996|By TaNoah Morgan | TaNoah Morgan,SUN STAFF

County taxpayers will pick up the $8,000 tab for youth baseball league umpires who did not receive checks when the man responsible for hiring and paying game officials did not do so, Recreation and Parks officials said yesterday.

Baltimore County police arrested Larry Frederick Smith, 43, of the 1000 block of Spa Road, Annapolis, on charges he stole $10,000 from the county youth baseball league. He was being held yesterday at the Anne Arundel detention center on $2,500 bail on the felony theft charge.

Recreation and Parks deputy director Thomas L. Donlin said he met yesterday morning with County Executive John G. Gary, who approved spending $8,000 from the county budget to pay umpires for games they called from late April, the beginning of the baseball season, to late May.

The money will be paid directly to the umpires after county officials confirm the identity of the 25 to 30 umpires and at how many games they officiated. All South County umpires hired by Smith are asked to meet with department officials at 7 p.m. July 25 at the Department of Recreation and Parks headquarters in Annapolis.

Donlin called the payments "un-precedented," noting that the department has never had a case where a contractor was accused of embezzling money from a sports organization. The decision, he said, was made in part to keep the umpires happy and to speed up restitution.

"Providing sports officials these days is extremely difficult," Donlin said, adding that last year umpires were not present at 40 percent of youth league baseball games. "The performance of this group [South County Baseball Association umpires] was very good. We did not want to discourage the officials from wanting to umpire."

He added, "It is much more efficient for Anne Arundel County to take action against Mr. Smith to recover all the funds" than for individual umpires to sue.

Recreation and Parks officials and police said they started receiving complaints from umpires in early May that they had not received payment for the games they called. Donlin said his workers tried to telephone Smith, but his number had been disconnected, and attempts to contact him at home were unsuccessful.

Officials had sent him two payments of approximately $5,000 each -- $8,000 of which was to be used to pay the umpires $30 for each game and $2,000 of which was a fee for Smith's services. The money, although paid by the county, was not taken from taxes. Umpire fees are paid from the $240-per-season franchise fee charged by the department to all 120 teams in the league.

While they were searching for Smith, Recreation and Parks officials received another invoice from Smith, billing the county for two more weeks of services, Dunlin said. The department did not pay that bill.

County police issued a warrant for Smith July 3, after they also received several complaints, according to police spokesman Sgt. Jeff Kelly.

Baltimore County police arrested him Monday after Anne Arundel County police called with a tip that he might be at a house in the LTC 4000 block of Twin Circle Way in Lansdowne. He was taken to the Anne Arundel County Detention Center Tuesday.

Smith was wanted on the felony theft charge and for failing to appear in court when he violated probation on a 1990 theft charge.

Anne Arundel District Court records show Smith has a history of theft and writing bad checks. In 1990, he was charged with 10 counts of theft and with writing bad checks to a Thriftway store. He was convicted on one bad check charge in 1994 and ordered by a district court judge to pay $125 in restitution to Thriftway. When he did not pay and later missed a court hearing on the charge of violating his probation, the judge issued a warrant that was served Tuesday.

In November 1991, Smith was arrested on charges of theft and writing bad checks and was ordered by a district court judge to pay $130 in restitution to a Super Fresh store.

Pub Date: 7/18/96

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