LEBANON, Pa. - A Lebanon County woman is charged with stealing more than $50,000 from three youth soccer leagues. Police believe it happened over a four year period until members of the clubs noticed money was unexplainably missing in August.
"It was a punch in the gut," said Bret Orwig, Ebenezer Youth Soccer Club Vice President.
In total, $53,548.02 was stolen from the Ebenezer Youth Soccer Club, Falcon Girls Soccer Parents Club and Friends of Falcons Football.
"She was a mentor in a way," said Orwig. "She knew the club, she knew all the ins and outs."
Lebanon District Attorney Dave Arnold announced charges against Wendy Jo Bartal at a Wednesday morning press conference. She is accused of stealing the money from the three youth soccer clubs. Bartal served as treasurer for these clubs sometime between 2014-2018.
"As I suspect with Mrs. Bartal, people always take on these roles with the best of intentions," said Arnold. "They take on these jobs as treasurer for these organizations that no one else wants to take."
During Bartal's four years are treasurer for Ebenezer, she allegedly wrote herself personal checks 50 different times, totaling about $38,000. Investigators say Bartal then wrote checks to herself and kept concession stand money from Falcon Girls Parents Club and Friends of Falcons Football. Arnold says Bartal was using the money to pay household expenses.
"Trust but verify," said Arnold. "Should you trust your treasurer with the money? Absolutely, but should you verify they're doing the things they said they are going to do and they're suppose to do? Absolutely."
Arnold says organizations should be treated as a business and there should always be more than one person in charge of handling money. These sorts of preventative steps are what Orwig says the Ebenezer Youth Soccer Club has done since finding out money from their organization was missing in August.
"We spent the last three months changing our bylaws, being a little more proactive as far as who has access to funds, money, checkbooks," said Orwig. "When money is taken out, who it goes to? So we put in a lot of preventative measures to make sure this doesn't happen next year or tens years down the road to anybody else."
What was a very hard time for these organizations, especially Ebenezer Youth Soccer Club who didn't know if they would be able to have a season, does end with a bit of a silver lining. Bartal has repaid all of these organizations back.
"We received our check yesterday," said Orwig. "All $37,951 and I might have shed a tear because I knew we were moving past this, for ourself and for our kids, and knowing the future of the club was going to be okay."
If convicted of all charges, Bartal could face up to 19 years in jail.