Little League embezzler pleads guilty

Former league treasurer must repay stolen money, faces up to five years

Posted: Sunday, November 22, 2009

Alleged Little League embezzler Arlene K. Moe pleaded guilty Friday to a big league theft.

Brian Wallace / Juneau Empire
Brian Wallace / Juneau Empire

Moe, 51, pleaded guilty to a felony theft charge after previously admitting to investigators she took tens of thousands of dollars from Gastineau Channel Little League between August 2007 and September 2008 while serving on the organization's board of directors. She faces up to five years in prison and will be sentenced Jan. 12.

Moe, who moved to Anchorage shortly after her indictment in June, was accused by police of writing checks to herself worth $40,660.33 on 57 occasions while acting as the league's treasurer.

In court Friday, Juneau Superior Court Judge Patricia Collins asked Moe to stand and deliver her plea.

"Guilty," she said.

Besides one word answers to the judge's questions, Moe made no statements during the hearing.

Meanwhile, the state and Moe's public defender, Eric Hedland, have yet to agree on the exact amount of money stolen from the league.

"We want to reach a figure, but we want to reach one that is ... the right figure," Hedland told Collins. "We know that any ambiguity is going to be construed against Ms. Moe and she's fine with that. But if there's a situation where they've counted the checks once and then counted again and added $15,000 that wasn't taken, I mean, nobody wants that to happen."

Deputy Attorney General Richard Svobodny told the court Friday that Moe may have taken as much as $60,000.

The plea agreement calls for Moe to pay restitution to the league after the figure is settled. If the state and Moe cannot reach an agreement by the Jan. 12 sentencing, each party has the right to withdraw from the agreement and proceed with trial on the original felony charge, Collins ruled. Moe was facing up to 15 years in prison on the original felony theft charge.

The league contacted the Juneau Police Department when it learned there were irregularities in the league's bookkeeping, Svobodny said.

"They had several complaints from vendors that they hadn't been paid. They got the registry from the checking account from her that indicated that they had been paid," he said. "But it appeared after (an accountant) reviewed the books that she was issuing the checks to herself, endorsing them and then entering into the check registry that vendors had been paid."

Gastineau Channel Little League President Jeff Duvernay declined to comment Friday.

Moe originally denied wrongdoing when confronted by police, but later admitted to investigators that she stole the money from the Little League, Svobodny said.

"She said she was going through a divorce," he said. "She needed the money to pay her lawyer and other expenses."

As part of the plea agreement, Moe agreed to be placed on probation for at least four years. If Moe completes the repayment within that time, she may end her probation early. The agreement also calls for a written apology.

Moe is free on a $50,000 signature bond, which means she signed for her release and the money would be owed only if she misses a court appearance. Her condition of release says she is not to leave the state.

• Contact reporter Eric Morrison at eric.morrison@juneauempire.com.



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