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LL manager pleads guilty to embezzlement

February 09, 2009|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. -- The manager of the 2007 state champion South Berkeley Little League team agreed Monday to enter a guilty plea to one felony count of embezzlement, a charge that stemmed from allegations that he used the nonprofit organization's credit card fraudulently.

Larry Anthony Custer, 45, of Bryarly Mill Lane, Inwood, W.Va., would be placed on probation for five years and pay about $9,000 in restitution if 23rd Judicial Circuit Judge Gray Silver III accepts a plea agreement reached between Berkeley County Prosecuting Attorney Pamela Jean Games-Neely, Custer and his attorney, William DeHaven.

A jail sentence of one to 10 years would be suspended, but the plea agreement also prohibits Custer from being part of any board with financial responsibility or having any "financial dealings" with nonprofit organizations, according to a plea letter from Games-Neely that DeHaven and Custer signed on Monday.

At a later hearing, Custer could be ordered to pay a total of $9,458.68 in restitution to South Berkeley Little League and the affected insurance company, according to the plea letter.

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Silver ordered a pre-plea investigation in Monday's hearing for Custer, who could be sentenced by the judge in April, Games-Neely said.

Custer was arraigned in February 2008, on 133 counts of fraudulent use of a credit card after the Little League's treasurer discovered questionable purchases had been made on the account beginning in September 2007, according to court records.

Custer in January 2008 admitted to using the card to purchase food and told police he did it because he had no money, police had said.

Police cited multiple purchases at Food Lion, Wal-Mart Supercenter, Sheetz and payments to Rent-A-Center, Lowe's and Radio Shack, among other Inwood and Martinsburg businesses, according to court records.

The unauthorized purchases began the day after Custer was appointed president of the organization's board of directors on Sept. 16, 2007, police said.

Custer was indicted on the felony count of embezzlement in October 2008 by a grand jury seated in circuit court, records show.

A Little League board member last year said Custer had been an active volunteer with the Little League for about 20 years and was a "fantastic" coach.

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