Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Chief of Kids' Soccer Group Is Charged; Investigators Say Convicted Treasurer's Cooperation Builds Case in Thefts from Club

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Chief of Kids' Soccer Group Is Charged; Investigators Say Convicted Treasurer's Cooperation Builds Case in Thefts from Club

Article excerpt

Byline: Jim Schoettler, The Times-Union

A former president of the First Coast Soccer Association was charged Monday with stealing $10,000 to $12,000 from the youth club, hours after a judge ordered a one-time treasurer to repay $82,000 she stole.

William Bell, president of the Jacksonville club during a period including 2001 and 2002, is charged with third-degree grand theft, Assistant State Attorney Shawn Arnold said.

Bell, 54, was arrested following an investigation helped by the cooperation of convicted treasurer Karen Edenfield. She made a tearful apology Monday before being sentenced to 10 years' probation and ordered to pay restitution.

Edenfield, who pleaded guilty Dec. 31, also promised to testify against others who embezzled at the association, which runs soccer leagues serving about 1,600 youths at Patton Park on Hodges Boulevard.

Arnold said the thefts charged to Bell began before Edenfield's, which occurred from January 2001 to October 2002. Edenfield told authorities that Bell showed her how to take money, while Bell denies that allegation, Arnold said.

Bell is accused of writing association checks to himself and using the money for personal expenses, as did Edenfield, Arnold said. Bell and Edenfield signed checks together, he said.

Bell turned himself in Monday and was taken to the Duval County jail shortly after 4 p.m. He was set to be released after posting $5,000 bond, Arnold said.

"We've now arrested both the president and treasurer, so the theft was certainly endemic in the organization," Arnold said. "Ultimately, the losers are the kids in terms of resources that are taken away and the name and good work of the organization."

Arnold said the investigation is continuing and declined to comment on the possibility of additional arrests.

Carlos Campos, president of the association, said measures such as regular audits have been put in place to help prevent future problems.

"As far as the club's ability to continue to function, it's fine," Campos said. "These aren't individuals [Edenfield and Bell] who are currently active with the board."

Mario Rubio, first vice president of the association, said news of Bell's arrest was a cause for "sadness. …

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