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News: Crime

Cleveland Woman Arrested For Embezzling Youth Sports Funds, Police Say

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CLEVELAND, Oklahoma -

Police in Cleveland arrested a woman for embezzling more than $16,000 from two youth athletic leagues.

The Cleveland baseball and softball league - and youth football and cheerleading leagues had the same treasurer - and now both have the same problem - money they had raised never made it to bank and their treasurer admits she took it.

When the youth baseball league sold these banners to advertisers, they hoped to use the money for improvements at the ball fields.

10/23/2017 Related Story: Cleveland Woman Accused Of Embezzling From Youth Sports Groups

The new concession stand was part of that effort this year.

But toward the end of summer, the baseball league found their bank account was almost empty.

After two months gathering evidence, police arrested Halee Dawn Safford and said she's admitted taking the money.

"She was the treasuer and she was the one adding up those numbers. No one was overseeing her. It was brought to light when they noticed we should have $11,000 in the bank and we don't have anything," said Cleveland Police Chief Clinton Stout. 

The baseball league determined it was missing $9,000.

They alerted the football league and they too were missing money - about $7,200.

Swafford served as treasurer for both.

When police searched her house, they said they found records of cash and checks Swafford had taken, but they only found $350 cash.

"We found empty bank bags, empty envelopes the money should have been in," Stout said. 

Police said they have video from this bank showing Swafford cashing checks and withdrawing cash from league accounts starting in May and running through August, when the money had almost run out.

"The association would sign checks for her to go get supplies for the concession, and she might go get the supplies, but she would write the check for several hundred dollars more, cash it and keep the cash."

The football league account was actually overdrawn when they finally checked.

Both groups are now working to do more fundraising to make up for the loss.

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