The former president of Livermore Little League has been arrested on suspicion of embezzling more than $22,000 from the youth league's coffers for personal use, according to Livermore police.
Police allege 48-year-old Livermore resident Denise Arante confessed to detectives after being taken into custody last Friday.
She has been charged with felony embezzlement, forgery and grand theft under an arrest warrant obtained by the Alameda County District Attorney's Office, according to Livermore police Officer Taylor Burruss.
Current Livermore Little League president Eddie Vaca told the Weekly that league officials are "relieved" that the "long, hard" investigation is over and charges have been leveled.
"The current board's reaction is kind of mixed because Denise was a friend to many on the board for a long time ... (but) we look at it as a crime against the kids and the families of this community," Vaca said. "We feel justice will be served in this case."
The arrest came just over a year after Arante resigned from Livermore Little League after nearly two years as board president, stepping down in May 2019 on the heels of an internal investigation into misappropriated league funds, according to Burruss.
"As the league president, Arante was entrusted with full access to the organization's banking account and finances. The money Arante allegedly stole was intended to keep the youth baseball organization operable for the children," Burruss said.
League officials initially became suspicious after Arante's personal bank reported to the league's treasurer apparent fraudulent activity in her account. Vaca, who was elected president in October 2019, said the red flag involved a check made out to the league that Arante forged to put in her own account.
After more digging, it became clear that the league president had committed fraud, so the league reported the crime to the Livermore Police Department, according to Burruss.
The department's criminal investigations unit took over the case, with league representatives fully cooperating with detectives' inquiry and taking part in a forensic audit of league financial records. "Following a systematic investigation, detectives uncovered evidence that Arante stole in excess of $22,000 from the Livermore Little League over a two-year period," Burruss said.
"In the end, the impact isn't measurable, of losing this $20,000," Vaca said, confirming the league has not been able to recoup any of the stolen money but officials are working with their insurance company to find some relief.
Detectives presented the case to the DA's office for review and prosecutors ultimately issued charges, leading to Arante's arrest last Friday. Burruss stated that the defendant then "provided a statement to detectives in which she admitted responsibility."
Vaca said he is "100% confident that Denise, she acted alone." He described Arante as "conniving" while hiding her actions for years.
"The really sad part was there were a few board members that were basically financing the league to keep it going ... and she was at the back door, pulling it back," he added.
Vaca said league officials are ready to move forward from the embezzlement and return their focus to the baseball -- as soon as the young athletes are allowed back on the field, given the social conditions amid COVID-19. "The current board is working really hard to improve that league ... support the kids of this community."
He said he hopes the league will be able to offer its 2020 fall ball season, but that will depend on clearance from the Alameda County Public Health Department. If not, league officials will turn their attention to the 2021 spring season.
Livermore Little League offers organized youth baseball for children 5 to 16 years old, from T-ball up to the Seniors Division for teens, as well as a Challengers Division program.