A former president of the Central Garden Grove Little League recently was arrested and has been charged with seven counts of grand theft for bringing the organization to its knees by allegedly embezzling nearly $50,000 from it in 2014-15.
Brenda Renee Escarpe, 44, of Sahuarita, Az., is scheduled to appear at a pre-trial hearing June 8 at the West Justice Center in Westminster, according to a May 9 news release from the Garden Grove PD.
On July 31, 2015, representatives from the Central Garden Grove Little League, whose headquarters are at 9100 Chapman Ave., reported to police they believed Escarpe was embezzling from the organization and that the league nearly had to be shut down because of lack of funds.
GGPD detectives wrote several warrants, reviewed financial records and worked closely with the Orange County District Attorney’s office and determined through their investigation that Escarpe allegedly embezzled $47,089 from the organization, the news release said.
Detectives attempted to contact Escarpe on several occasions but were unsuccessful, and Escarpe refused to cooperate with investigators and Little League Board members, the news release said.
On Oct. 20, 2016 a $100,000 arrest warrant was obtained for Escarpe for seven counts of grand theft. It later was determined Escarpe had moved from her Westminster address and fled the state to Sahuarita.
GGPD detectives were able to locate Escarpe’s new address and authorities in Sahuarita located and arrested her for the outstanding warrant.
Escarpe was booked into Pima County Jail and later was released on bond with a notice to appear at the West Justice Center on April 3, when she pleaded not guilty to the seven felony counts.
Escarpe is out of custody on $50,000 bail, according to court records.
Because of the alleged embezzlement, vendors for trophies, uniforms and equipment went unpaid, the news release said.
The league was able to continue with support from local civic organizations like the Garden Grove Kiwanis Club, but enrollment dwindled to about 100 players, from 300, and the league still is trying to recover from the theft, the news release said.
“Parents lost trust in the board members and took their players to other leagues,” Little League Board member Rob Hovis said in a statement. “The children of the league were hurt the most by this theft.”