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Ex-Little League president sentenced to repay $10K

June 15, 2009|By RICHARD F. BELISLE

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. -- Larry A. Custer was sentenced to five weekends in jail and ordered to repay nearly $10,000 in restitution after pleading guilty in Berkeley County's 23rd Circuit Court on Monday to embezzling while he was president of the South Berkeley Little League.

Custer, 46, of Bryarly Mill Lane, Inwood, W.Va., who is now an umpire with the Martinsburg Little League, admitted to Judge Gray Silver III that used South Berkeley Little League's credit card for personal use.

He pleaded guilty to one count of felony embezzlement and was sentenced to a one- to 10-year state prison term, which the judge suspended. He was ordered to serve five years of supervised probation for what Silver called his "despicable crime preying on children through the Little League."

Custer was indicted in October 2008 on the one count of embezzlement to which he pleaded guilty on Monday. In February 2008, he was arraigned on 133 counts of fraudulent use of a credit card, according to court records. 

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The unauthorized purchases began the day after he was appointed president of the organization's board of directors on Sept. 16, 2007, court records show. He made multiple purchases at services and businesses in Berkeley County, court records said. 

Jim Heironimus, president of South Berkeley Little League, followed Custer's case in court every day from the beginning, said Pamela Games-Neeley, Berkeley County prosecutor.

"He was here for every proceeding," she said.

Heironimus, who was vice president when Custer served as the league's president, told Silver on Monday that Custer's actions against the league "disheartened me. He didn't take from me. He took from 530 children and left us with a terrible situation."

Heironimus said money had to be borrowed to make up for the loss. He said that while it has been difficult for the league to find sponsors "after something like this, we'll move on in South Berkeley."

Custer, a mechanic who lives on a disability pension, must pay the restitution during his five-year probationary period, according to the judge's order. 

That includes the $1,000 the league lost in deductibles on its insurance and $9,870.50 to the league's insurance company, which covered the losses from Custer's embezzlement.

Games-Neeley said Custer's disability pension is substantial enough to allow him to pay the restitution in the allotted time.

Custer, who showed no remorse in court Monday, asked through William DeHaven, his court-appointed lawyer, that he be allowed to choose the weekends he spends in jail because of his umpiring duties in the Martinsburg league during upcoming playoff games.

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