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Old 02-08-18, 08:05 PM
DB135 DB135 is offline
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Lightbulb Massillon LL Director Stole Funds


Lawsuit: Massillon Little League director stole funds

By Ed Balint
CantonRep.com staff writer

Posted at 1:08 PM

Ohio Attorney General’s Office has filed lawsuit against Luther E. Copeland Sr., accusing him of misusing more than $25,000 from Massillon Little League and the Massillon Youth Baseball Association.

MASSILLON The Ohio Attorney General’s Office is accusing the head of Massillon Little League and the Massillon Youth Baseball Association of taking more than $25,000 in charitable funds from the organizations for personal use.

Attorney General Mike DeWine filed the lawsuit against Luther E. Copeland Sr. in Franklin County Common Pleas Court.
According to the filing, Copeland ran Massillon Little League until 2016, when it stopped operating, and he incorporated Massillon Youth Baseball Association in April 2017. Copeland has served as president of the baseball organizations.

Investigators found that Copeland, who had control over the organization’s bank accounts, diverted funds from the charity’s bank accounts into his own personal prepaid card account, then used the funds for personal expenses, including payments to an auto insurance company, a jewelry store and casino, according to a news release from the state attorney general’s office.

Kate Hanson, a public information officer for the attorney general, said on Thursday that she’s not aware of any criminal charges pending against Copeland stemming from the agency’s investigation.

‘The kids deserve better’

The agency accuses Copeland of misappropriating more than $25,000.

“The defendant is accused of taking money from a youth baseball league and spending it at casinos,” DeWine said in a statement. “The kids deserve better than that. We’re taking this action to hold this man accountable and to recover any charitable funds that were misused.”

Expenditures from Copeland’s prepaid card account “for which there is no discernible charitable purpose,” the lawsuit says, include $1,700 at a jewelry store; $537 at a casino; $2,017 for automobile insurance; $134 at Playhouse Square; $242 at the Hard Rock Cafe in Tampa, Fla., $153 at Pet Supplies Plus and $131 for SiriusXM radio.

The lawsuit says Copeland “has provided no explanation or documentation of the charitable purpose for the aforementioned expenses or any of the personal expenses appearing on his prepaid card, despite the diversion of charitable funds into, and co-mingled with the funds, of his personal account.”

Copeland “had failed to provide a true and accurate accounting of the revenue and expenditures for the charitable assets and funds of Massillon Little League and Massillon Youth Baseball Association (from February 2014 to the present),” the lawsuit further states.

Massillon Little League failed to file annual reports for 2014, 2015 and 2016 as required under state law for charitable organizations, the lawsuit says. The Massillon Youth Baseball Association failed to register as a charitable organization and trust under the same section of Ohio Revised Code, according to the filing.
Restitution, civil penalties sought

The court filing seeks restitution of more than $25,000 and a court order preventing him from incorporating, organizing or serving in a fiduciary role for a nonprofit organization in Ohio. The attorney general’s office also seeks to bring the Massillon Youth Baseball Association into compliance with Ohio’s charitable laws and to properly dissolve Massillon Little League.

A civil penalty of up to $10,000 is also being pursued against Copeland through the court for each violation of state law.

Also sought from the court is “an order appointing a receiver to take control of any charitable assets and property that may still remain under the control of ... Massillon Little League (and Copeland) to account for and dispose of those assets and property in accordance with Ohio Revised Code and the common law governing the winding-up and dissolution of a charitable organization.”

The lawsuit was sparked by an investigation by the Ohio Attorney General’s Charitable Law Section.

“The purpose of the lawsuit and action is not to shut down (Massillon) youth baseball,” said Hanson, a spokesperson for the attorney general’s office. “It’s against this specific individual (Copeland) and the goal is to try to recover any misused charitable funds and bring the existing and dissolved organizations into compliance.”
No other defendants are named in the lawsuit, Hanson said.

Youth baseball will continue

A Facebook page for the Massillon Youth Baseball Association indicates that youth were able to sign up in January and earlier this month for the coming baseball season for ages 5 to 14 in four divisions. Roughly 200 youth participated in the baseball program last season, said Don Mason, a board member for the Massillon Youth Baseball Association.

Mason said the group is “willing and ready to cooperate with the attorney general and anything he needs.”
The Massillon Youth Baseball Association’s six-member board will hold a special meeting this week, he said.

“We’re going to make sure (Copeland) is not affiliated (with the organization) anymore,” Mason said. “He’s not going to be president.”

“We don’t want anything to happen (to the youth baseball program),” he said Thursday. “We have board members that are in this just for the kids in our town and the children look forward to this every year.”

“We’ll move forward,” Mason said. “We’re going to make sure we have baseball for our kids this year.”

Reach Ed at 330-580-8315

and ed.balint@cantonrep.com

On Twitter: @ebalintREP

Little League headquarters was notified about the allegations that were circulating about this situation years ago and they apparently ignored the situation.

I was told that the ultra successful MAYS program was replaced by the Pelican program (https://midwestpelicans.wordpress.co...e-commitments/) headed by former HC Neall French (https://www.ohio.com/akron/sports/ma...on-drug-charge). Before you join that program, you might want to do some independent research to see if the current organizations questionable oversight and auditing procedures have been addressed and if they are still affiliated with the Pelican organization.

Last edited by DB135; 02-11-18 at 03:30 AM.
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